I was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Phyllis Diller, one of America’s iconic funny ladies. But, heck, she lived to be 95! That’s a lot of laughs!
I was always drawn to funny women as a girl, and Phyllis Diller is one of the funny women I remember from my childhood. I loved Erma Bombeck’s weekly column in the newspaper. I loved Lucille Ball in her various shows. I loved watching Ruth Buzzi, Jo Anne Worley, and Goldie Hawn on Laugh-In. Lily Tomlin sitting in the oversized rocking chair as Edith Ann was a hoot and a half. The hilarious sketches and unusual costumes on the Carol Burnett Show are the stuff of legend.
Looking back is bittersweet, but it also makes me wonder, what was it about these women that I admired then and continue to admire today?
Most of all, I think I admired these women because they were brave. While many Hollywood starlets are admired for their beauty and grace, these women dared to be different. It’s not that these women weren’t physically attractive, because many of them were, but they dared to defy the rules of decorum and weren’t constrained by some outdated notion of how women were supposed to behave.
These women offered their fans some levity, a much-needed break from the drudgery of everyday life. They didn’t mind acting goofy if it would bring a smile to someone’s face. Their shows gave us all something to look forward to, a time to set aside our troubles even if only for half an hour or so.
I admired their creativity, too. They could take a mundane topic or an ordinary event and show the humor in it. That’s not always easy to do.
These women showed us how to cope, taught us not to take life too seriously. It’s only life, after all.
Rest in peace, Phyllis.
Do you have any special memories of funny women from television or movies? What do you admire about these types of women? What did you learn from them?