Gimme a Break

Gimme a Break
Gimme a Break Ztams Teen Pinups & Rock Magazines Child Stars
Cute boys Joey & Matt

Gimme a Break

Gimme a break, now I know what it takes. I’m putting a new face on the old one. Ready for anything.

Gimme a Break was a cute sitcom in the 80’s. It was about a thick stout black woman raising a police chief’s three daughters. I didn’t watch the show faithfully, but I do remember it. I remember cute Joey Lawrence and his little brother Matt being on it and I remember when Rosie O’Donnell was on. Rosie had just been on Star Search shortly before she got her role on Gimme a Break. She was a nice person back then. Anyway, Gimme a Break first aired on October 29, 1981 and ended on May 12, 1987.

Nell Carter

Nell Carter played the main character on the show. She stood only 4’11” and weighed well over 200 pounds. She suffered from diabetes and attempted suicide in the early 80’s. I’m guessing it was drug fueled. I remember reading lots of things about her and cocaine during those years. I know that reading it and seeing it a lot doesn’t necessarily make it true, but it would explain a lot. Nell entered a drug rehab place in 1985, her brother died from AIDS in 1989, she had brain surgery in 1992, got divorced in 1993, declared bankruptcy in 1995 and 2002, had three miscarriages, and then died in 2003. What a bad life. Gimme a break.

Dolph Sweet portrayed cranky police chief Carl Kanisky. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with cancer during Gimme a Break’s fourth season. He continued to work, but I remember this once big surly man being reduced to a thin and gaunt sickly person. He died on 5/8/85 and his final Gimme a Break episode aired three days later.

Gimme a Break Ztams Teen Pinups & Rock Magazines Child Stars
Oldest daughter Katie

The Kids

Kari Michaelsen played oldest daughter Katie Kanisky. She did very little acting after Gimme a Break but did go to college. Smart girl. Lauri Hendler played middle nerdy daughter Julie Kanisky. She has stayed in the business and is still acting. Cute youngest daughter, Samantha Kanisky, was played by Lara Jill Miller. She attended college and graduated magna cum laude (just like me……seriously). Four years later, she graduated from law school. (I didn’t do that.) She passed the bar and can practice law, but instead she’s doing voiceover work. Cool.

Joey and Matthew Lawrence portrayed Joey and Matthew Donovan. They grew up to be hot. Matt is currently engaged to Dancing with the Stars dancer Cheryl Burke. Joey is currently being kind of creepy on Celebrity Big Brother.

Rosie O’Donnell portrayed neighbor Maggie O’Brien. She grew up to be gay and angry. I was a huge fan of hers for many years, but she has become a bully. I don’t like bullies.

Gimme a Break Ztams Teen Pinups & Rock Magazines Child Stars
Youngest daughter Samantha


  • Helen Hunt auditioned for the role of Katie Kanisky.
  • Nell’s middle name is Ruth which was Nell Carter’s middle name as well.
  • The family lived at 2938 Wells Drive.
  • Tracey Gold was going to play Samantha but at the last moment was replaced by Lara Jill Miller. Tracey instead went on to portray Carol Seaver in Growing Pains.
  • A number of celebrities appeared on the show throughout the six-year run including Andy Gibb (he dated Kari Michaelsen in 1983), Whitney Houston, Pat Sajak, Ray Parker Jr., and Sammy Davis Jr.
  • Nell Carter sang the theme song.


  • Nell Carter played Nell Harper
  • Lara Jill Miller played Samantha Kanisky
  • Lauri Hendler played Julie Kanisky
  • Kari Michaelsen played Katie Kanisky
  • Dolph Sweet played Carl Kanisky
  • Joey Lawrence played Joey Donovan
  • Matthew Lawrence played Matthew Donovan
  • Telma Hopkins played Addy Wilson
  • Jonathan Silverman played Jonathan Maxwell
  • Rosie O’Donnell played Maggie O’Brien

Gimme a break, I sure deserve it. It’s time I made it to the top. Gimme a break, I’m looking forward. Get behind me, pull out every stop.

Gimme a Break Ztams Teen Pinups & Rock Magazines Child Stars
The Whole Gang


Tammy is a teen pinup collector and entrepreneur who has been offering an exceptional selection of vintage and modern teen pinups and rock magazines on Ztams for many years now.

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