She’s a fabulous actress, a true survivor, and the classic happy-but-snarky lady. Phyllis, I love you!
Fo ladies of our generation, Phyllis probably doesn’t come to mind as a classic actress. But to Lovelies of a certain generation, she was the be-all and end-all in Hollywood. She had the funniest comedic personas (from Failed Housewife, Sharp-Witted Diva and of course the Self-Deprecating Everywoman). And that laugh, oh my gosh… I’m convinced that that alone got her the part of the Queen in this movie! And you know, a ton of other voice acting gigs.
But in addition to her fabulous laugh, Phyllis is also well-known for the bits about her husband, “Fang.” But she’s actually come out and said that Fang doesn’t really exist — he’s a totally fake idea. But nevertheless her funny takes on everyday life as a woman have proved inspiring to many, including me. And anyone who isn’t exactly Betty Crocker definitely has a friend in Phyllis…
My grandpa actually met Ms. Diller, way back when she was working as a copywriter. This was waaaaay back, back before World War Two and any sign that Phyllis would become a famous entertainer. He told me he found her to be a nice lady, though admittedly they didn’t talk for very long. Who cares, though? He met her, and that puts me at less than six degrees of separation from Phyllis. WIN.
I think more than her talent, I think what I admire most about Phyllis Diller is her work toward being happy in life. She’s been married twice, and was a working actress/comedian for years. In recent decades, she’s retired from standup partly due to health problems (most related to aging, unfortunately). But even in her nineties, Phyllis still keeps trying to live life full, always shifting her energy to new pursuits, including writing a truly entertaining memoir. And yes, I can give that opinion because I actually read it.
These days though, it’s mostly painting and gardening for one of my favorite funny ladies. But thank goodness, she still has her feisty attitude and desire to live life fully. As she said in an awesome New Yorker profile piece about her (which, unfortunately, is now only available in print and for website members):
Happiness keeps you from dying from a lot of terrible things. Ain’’t I a happy broad?”
Any woman who calls herself a “broad” in her golden years is just too awesome for words. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
Are you a fan of Phyllis Diller? Who are your favorite old-school comedians?