renowned comic and actress, phyllis diller, died yesterday. she was 95.
halloween, 1994, i dressed up as phyllis diller. i had met her earlier that year at the st. croix casino. my brother and i sat through what was probably our first comic routine and it certainly was, for the most part, way over our heads. i may not have gotten all her jokes but i remember thinking i liked the way she could make the whole room laugh. and i loved the way she laughed. (the one joke i do remember her telling–and i don’t know why this has stuck w me–is “what is birth control for old people? nudity.”).
afterward, my family got to go backstage and meet w the comic icon. my mother had made her a phyllis doll — it was wearing a sequin gown and had crazy blonde hair. she thought it was hysterical. i remember her vividly, as well as the bright lights around her dressing room mirror. by the time we got back there she had removed her wig. she talked to my brother and i like adults she respected. we were 9 and 11.
phyllis diller was born phyllis driver. that’s my maiden name, and the driver line i come from. though perhaps not first cousins with my grandfather, she was second or once removed or some other confusing connection like that. but still. i’m pretty proud of this connection as she’s an epic, brilliant, talented woman. and beloved and respected. i think that’s pretty cool. if you have met me in person and heard my laugh, you will understand where i might possibly have gotten it from. or at least that’s what i’d like to think
last night my father, david, sent me copies of some letters she had sent him. i’m including them here, along with a photo of me by her hollywood walk of fame star from our 2010 california trip. additionally, here’s a link to the NPR news short on the announcement of phyllis diller’s death.