Tuesday, August 21, 2012

RIP Phyllis Diller

Two of the leaders of the feminist movement passed away this past week.  Most people have heard of Helen Gurley Brown.  For me, her idea of of the movement was having it all as long as the sex was good.  And her magazine, Cosmopolitan, was just an off-shoot of Playboy, exploiting women under the guise of feminism.

Now, Phyllis Diller was a true pioneer.  She was the first female stand up comedian to make it big.  She went were no woman had gone before and she did it without using sex to get there.  With her frazzled looking hair, the non-form fitting dresses, that wonderful barking laugh, the cigarette in that long elegant holder, and her hands and arms encased in long black evening gloves she poked fun at the "beautiful people".  She was one of us, and we loved her for it.

She proved that women didn't have to be beautiful or sexy to make their mark on the world.  All we needed was a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at ourselves.  She opened the doors for the women who came after her like Joan Rivers and Roseanne Barr.  It's still not easy for women to step out into what's considered a man's world but Phyllis Diller showed us what could be done with grace and a raucous laugh. 


Katherine Tomlinson said...

While I am a little more mellow about HGB after reading one of her books where she talks about supporting her mother and invalid sister on a secretary's salary, COSMO her version of feminist as sex object is/was not my own.
Phyllis Diller, though--she was a true pioneer for our sex. And the real shame of it is that she was pretty. It was just hard to tell under all the outlandish props and clothing. It was like Lucille Ball had already claimed the "I'm attractive and I'm funny" spot so she had to come up with another schtick. I interviewed her in her home years ago--she was probably 70 then--and it was gorgeous, filled with light and art (really good art to my eyes) and evidence of a life well-lived. RIP indeed.

sandra seamans said...

How lucky you were, Katherine!! She seemed such a genuine person in all the interviews I saw on TV. I always remember one where she told everyone she had a piano in her kitchen because the kitchen was the heart of the house and where her family spent most of their time together.

Al Tucher said...

That laugh of hers always made me helpless. My favorite line of hers was about plastic surgery: "I was so wrinkled, I had to screw my hats on."

sandra seamans said...

She could certainly get you to laugh, Al.