Phyllis Diller (1917-2012)

I was a huge Phyllis Diller fan and I had the opportunity to visit with her at her Brentwood home in 2006. As I arrived her gin rummy partner Elliot Gould was just leaving. She was lively and sharp as a scalpel. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. Here’s my interview with her.

GO: You have a wonderful house.
PD: It’s old — it’s almost a hundred years old. And I love it very much, ’cause it has that old-house charm.
GO: I also brought you this. I edit this little literary magazine …Bald Ego.
PD: What a brilliant title. (Laughs)
GO: And a very good friend of mine, who’s a painter, is a huge fan of yours.
GO: Robert Hawkins. He lives in London. He did a drawing of you here. There you are.
PD: Oh, my …
GO: This one’s called “The Time You Married Phyllis Diller.” (Laughter)
PD: Oh — oh, ho, ho, ho. Oh, my God.
GO: He’ll be so thrilled that I showed this to you.
PD: And this is your book, too.
GO: Well, I’m the editor of it. It comes out like once a year.
PD: And it’s all art.
GO: It’s fiction, and poetry and art.
PD: Oh, bless you.
GO: Maybe you’d want to contribute a painting sometime.
PD: Of course I will.
GO: That’d be nice.
PD: Oh. Well, you just pick one out. Do you want to do it before or after?
GO: No, no, no, no. Let’s just talk.
PD: Oh. Is that a recorder? I can’t believe anything that small.
GO: I know — it’s good for spying. It’s digital — there’s no tape.
PD: Oh, my dear! This is a first for me.
GO: Well, I’m terrible with tape recorders, and I always have disasters. So since I’ve got this thing … I’ve had a lot better results.
PD: Really? Well you don’t have to be responsible for being the engineer.
GO: Yeah, I’m a bad engineer.
PD: You’re well-dressed.
GO: Thank you.
PD: I love the coordination of pink, pink and gray stripes.
GO: Thanks. I like pink.
PD: I like your hairdo, too.
GO: Oh, thank you.
PD: Yes. I used to wear my hair like that — when I had hair. (Laughs)
GO: Really?
PD: I’m a wig person now.
GO: Yeah? Well, I remember your hair …
PD: Oh, well, that’s when I started out —
GO: Was that a wig?
PD: It was my real hair.
GO: Really?
PD: But then, being abused — the hair being abused so badly. Oh, God — the things they used to do to hair. You know, teasing? And then tearing that all off. Well, I just tore it all off. So I’m very big with wigs. I have a wig room, which I– You must see it.
GO: Oh, fantastic.
PD: Well, very few people have a wig room.
GO: Yeah. (Laughter) Few people have room for a wig room.
PD: Well, I have 22 rooms.
GO: Wow.
PD: One is my studio, where I paint. What’s his name again?
GO: Robert Hawkins.
PD: Yes. Well, I’m glad I have a fan in London.
GO: He’s a big fan. He does humorous paintings. I have a big beautiful oil painting by him of Jesus water-skiing. (PD laughs) And the disciples are in awe …
PD: Brilliant … oh, brilliant. You see that hall — the one on the right-hand wall.
GO: Yeah.
PD: That’s called “And Now.”
GO: Oh, that’s good.
PD: See, that was one of my key– That’s my first painting.
GO: Really?
PD: Yeah.
GO: That is remarkably similar to a Robert Hawkins. May I ask when you did it?
PD: Oh, that was about 1960. I did it in New York, at The Waldorf Towers.
GO: Wow.
PD: I very seldom do oil, but that was an oil.
GO: Did you draw before that?
PD: Oh, I drew. I was born drawing. I mean, it came with the package — drawing.

GO: What made you decide to paint?
PD: Oh, I was saving it till I reached a sedentary age. I retired in 2002. Because of not having the wind or … energy — and various body replacements. (Laughs) I’m The Bionic Woman. (Laughter) So, you see, I had to give up the kind of activity it takes to do what I used to do. But I’ve been saving this!
GO: You could do a show just sitting right here, I think. I mean, it would have to be on film, of course.
PD: Oh, there’s no– There’s really no market for that.
GO: I had a friend who got the idea to do a show where he would lay on a sofa and interview people.
PD: (Laughs) Did it work?
GO: I think they’re doing it on the Independent Film Channel on cable.
PD: Well, there we go — cable and a small audience.
GO: Yeah. But, then, you know, it adds up. But 1960 — what got you started painting then?
PD: Everything about me is very simple. Someone asked if I would give them a painting to show in some art show. So I said yes. So then I just … bought those paints and painted it.
GO: That’s really — that’s a good one.
PD: And then I didn’t paint again for — let’s see — about 30 years. (Laughs)
GO: That’s amazing.
PD: (Laughs) I had planned on doing something. I thought I was gonna be writing. But it wasn’t that — it was painting. Something to do at home, you know.
GO: Right.

GO: I’ve seen some– I’ve seen the work of various show-business people. Yours is right up there. The other one that …
PD: You mean paintings.
GO: It’s good. Yes.
PD: Oh, God. Henry Fonda was wonderful.
GO: Fred Gwynne — did you ever see his paintings?
PD: No.
GO: Remember Fred Gwynne? He was a TV star. He was on “Car 54, Where Are You?”
PD: Oh. I never saw that.
GO: And … he was in “Sgt. Bilko.”
PD: Oh. What –? I watched that …
GO: He was a big tall guy. Good painter.
PD: Fred Gwynne. Well, I watched “Sgt. Bilko.” My God, wasn’t that a brilliant show?
GO: He was a comedic actor — not the most famous. He wasn’t up there with Jonathan Winters.
PD: I probably would recognize him if I saw him.
GO: Well, he was very tall.
PD: Yeah. Well, that makes him funny, right there. Especially if he were skinny. Tall and skinny is funny.
GO: Yeah…. So, you know, my friend Richard Prince is having a big show at The Guggenheim Museum. He does joke paintings.
PD: Joke, joke, jokes!
GO: Yeah. (Pause) And so I wanted to talk to a professional about jokes, because not too many comedians tell jokes anymore.
PD: I tell jokes. But they’re one-liners. Like: setup — payoff. Setup — payoff. And I invented a manner of delivery which got me into the Guinness World Book of Records…. A way that I learned to use the setup-payoff thing in a different way. You know, like say: She’s so fat that…. When she wears a white dress, we show movies on her. (Laughs)
GO: Rim shot. (Sound)
PD: (Sound) She laid down in a hammock — uprooted two trees. She stepped on a dog’s tail. Now we call him Beaver. (Laughs) Here’s what I invented: one setup, 10 payoffs.
GO: Yeah.
PD: Don’t set each one up. That takes a lot of guts to do that, ’cause you gotta have it really set up.
GO: Yeah.
PD: And then you just hit ’em with 11 payoffs. I got 12 laughs a minute. Nobody can do that. And now my secret is out.
GO: Well, that’s good.
PD: Oh, I’ll give you an example. A dear friend — Jeff Foxworthy. He used to always say: If you so-and-so and so– You know, if there are more than three dogs in bed with you, you may be a redneck — or whatever it was he used to say. But he would say it every time.
GO: Yeah.
PD: And you get tired of hearing it.
GO: Yeah.
PD: You may be a redneck — or You know you’re a redneck if … But he’d repeat it every joke.
GO: So the world record was how many –?
PD: Twelve jokes a minute…. (Pause)
GO: I used to do stand-up?
PD: Did you?
GO: And I got into it as an art project, but then it caught on. So I understand the pressure. I used to open for a musician. And the same people wouldn’t want to come back, like every weekend. So I was under this incredible pressure. Because, otherwise, people would start yelling out the punch lines.
PD: That’s right — that’s right. I went through the same thing, at the beginning.
GO: Yeah, I’m sure.
PD: ‘Cause I only had 17 minutes — 15 minutes, at the most. And I real– In my case, they stayed — half the audience stayed! Now, it’s even worse! Oh, the pressure! So you know.
GO: Yeah. I started off– I loved– Do you know BS Pulley? You know who he was, right?
PD: Yeah.
GO: I idolized this guy. And so I learned his 1960 Copa act. (PD laughs) And I was gonna do it one time only.
PD: You memorized his act.
GO: I memorized his act; I did his voice. There was Beatlemania on Broadway, so I did Pullymania. I put on a bright-green dinner jacket and I did it in a nightclub — one night only.
PD: And then what –?
GO: And then, afterward, a rock-musician friend of mine came up and said: Look. I’m doing a lounge act — you’re my opening act. And I wasn’t making any money. I thought: Why not? So I started doing it. And people liked it, but the pressure of having new material. I could only do BS Pulley’s act for like two weeks, and so I started stealing jokes from Woody Woodbury, and this one and that one.
PD: Yeah, right — yeah. Well, how long would you have to be on?
GO: I used to do like 15 minutes, two shows a night.
PD: That’s what I had when I started — fifteen minutes. Believe me — that was it. Jesus.
GO: Eventually, you must have been doing what — an hour?
PD: Well, it ended up an hour. Or I could do two hours, but an hour is what I did. But I had relief material. I mean, I had a backlog of old material.
GO: Yeah.
PD: Because of constantly renewing and refreshing. For instance, you know, the Jackie Onassis thing — that’s over. When the astronauts were new — that’s over.
GO: Yeah.
PD: You know, the Nixon thing was over. When somebody dies, it’s over. When Ronald Reagan died, I had all these old jokes left over. I simply change the name. The jokes don’t change — the people die.
GO: Yeah.
PD: My joke file is in The Smithsonian.
GO: Really?
PD: I’m very honored — thrilled.
GO: How many jokes are in it?
PD: I don’t have any idea. (Laughs) They’re all on cards. Cross-referenced.
PD: Cross-referenced ______ cards — in a little drawer. It was ancient. You know, everything is …
GO: I still have a file that’s filled with like cocktail napkins.
PD: Oh, of course. All comics have the same thing. You know, they’re written here, they’re written there. And these long … just notes, notes, notes, notes. They all work like that.
GO: What joke are you most associated with?
PD: The one that peopled picked up and put on napkins: Never go to bed mad — stay up and fight. (Laughter) I guess that’s the one …
GO: Yeah. I mean … there were many, many men who did “my wife” jokes. I guess you were the first to do “my husband jokes.”
PD: I turned ’em all around.

GO: You turned it around.
PD: I had a mother-in-law — and, you know, I would– “Wife” jokes now became “husband” jokes.
GO: Yeah. You husband Fang.
PD: I It was an ad-lib, when I was struggling …
GO: How did that happen?
PD: Struggling for new material, at the very first — struggling, struggling. Which means very– In a small room, of course, you can go out, and you don’t have to deliver a $5,000-a-week show. This is back then.
GO: Right.
PD: You’re getting paid 60 bucks. You’d do whatever you pleased. So, you know, I was quickly trying to get a second show — and ad-libbing. I heard Bob Newhart’s driving bit — the driving lesson. It was hilarious. And I thought: I gotta have a driving bit. So I wrote a driving bit, where I was the idiot. And I had to call home and tell Fang– No, I called him– And tell old Fangface — that was the way I originally did it. Because, in those days, there was a family car, and it was part of the man.
And part of his ego. Had to call home and tell old Fangface that I had an accident — at the corner of Post and Geary. And he said: Post and Geary don’t cross. I said: They do now. (Laughter) Then I talked about old Fangface, and then I said– I dropped “old” and “face” … … and just called him Fang. And then…. See there? That’s how important that is. (Laughs) Oh, my.
GO: You’re knocking ’em dead.
PD: Yup. Oh, I have such wonderful driving lines, like: I’m not a good driver. I have to pull off the road to blow the horn. (GO laughs) And I never know whether it’s 1 o’clock or I’m going 100.
GO: That’s really good.
PD: Isn’t that a great line?
GO: Yeah. You know Steven Wright.
PD: Oh, God!
GO: He had some good ones. Like he’d say: I bought a house on the median of a super highway. He said: It’s not bad, but I gotta be going 60 miles an hour to get out of the driveway. (Laughter)
PD: Yes, yeah. Yeah, he’s wonderful.
GO: He was like the first– Was there anybody deadpan –? Well, I guess Jackie Vernon was very deadpan. What was your circle when you started out? I mean, who were your peers?
PD: All of the comics of the time: Rickles, and Newhart and Norm Crosby — that group. Well, of course, I go back to when my circle was Jack Benny — and Dean Martin and the Rat Pack; Jerry Lewis. I mean, I’ve been in all the groups . And now, as we say of my group, we’re circling the drain. (Laughter) That’s a new phrase.
GO: That’s a really good one.
PD: Yeah. You’ve heard it — haven’t you?
GO: No. That’s a good one. (Pause) Did you come up with that one?
PD: No. I’ve heard it from two comics. The first person I heard say it was Bill Dana, and the next person was Ronnie Schell.
GO: Yeah. I remember somebody talking about being in the departure lounge, or something like that.
PD: (Laughs) That’s funny! Oh, that’s another way of putting it.
GO: My friend Richard paints jokes. I’m sure he stole some from you.
PD: God, I’m hot!
GO: I mean, he started out with stuff like: I never had a penny to my name, so I changed my name.
PD: Heh.
GO: I think his most famous is: I went to the psychiatrist. He said: Tell me everything. I did — and now he’s doing my act.
PD: Now he’s doing my act. Yeah — good, good.
GO: But why do you think people don’t really tell jokes anymore?
PD: They do setups. Newhart’s work was never jokes. And neither was Shelly Berman. Remember — the telephone bits.
And that way he had two people. And when I started … Shelly Berman and Bob Newhart were the only singles. The men were all working double: Martin and Lewis — everybody was double. Everybody. There was no such thing as a single excepting for the old guys: Bob Hope and Jack Benny. But they had all gone on to television.
GO: Yeah.
PD: So they weren’t working live. You see, I really patterned myself after Bob Hope, and he was really a mechanic. I mean, he went for six laughs a minute. That means six setups — payoffs. So that was his rhythm. And I copied him.

GO: I didn’t know there was such a science to it.
PD: Oh, God. Every word is carefully chosen. Hopefully, the joke is at the end of the sentence, and it should end with an explosive consonant.
GO: Yeah.
PD: Like … crap. It shouldn’t be melodious, or mellifluous, or one of those words. And when you choose a number — like when you have a number in a joke — very carefully choose it for rhythm, sound and the way it fits in. It’s music. That’s why so many good comics are musicians. Jack Benny …
GO: Henny Youngman. (Laughs)
PD: Absolutely. Jack Benny; Henny Youngman; Johnny Carson — drums. Phil Silvers — Bilko. Clarinet. I mean, it’s frightening how many are musicians. I should give you my list.
GO: I never thought of that.
PD: Because, you see, they listen.
GO: Yeah.
PD: They listen– Every audience has its own timing; every room– You got to listen– You can’t just go in and do your thing.
It has a sound; it has a shape. Comedy is so sensitive.
GO: I used to love Woody Woodbury. Remember him?
PD: Yes.
GO: He played the piano. He did a little bit of kinda blue material.
PD: He lives in Florida.
GO: He lives in Ft. Lauderdale.
PD: Yeah, he’s a friend of mine.
GO: He used to call it Ft. Liquordale.
PD: And a close, close buddy.
GO: He’d just tinkle on the piano while …
PD: And he did everything to keep himself small — if you know what I mean. I mean: That’s gonna keep you in the small lounge.
GO: Well, he was working in a restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale …
PD: Yeah.
GO: My wife is 20 years younger than me. I said: You gotta see Woody Woodbury. (PD laughs) I love this guy.
PD: (Laughs) So do I.
GO: So went to this restaurant, and we’re sitting there. And he’s doing his act. I was like 52, and I was the second-youngest person in the room.
PD: (Laughs) Well, Florida.
GO: Yeah, yeah — it was in Florida. And so afterward I went up and I said: Mr. Woodbury, I want to introduce myself. I’m a huge fan of yours, you know. And he says: Oh, great. And then he says: Why are you here? (Laughs)
PD: Oh, hah! He’s so funny — so funny.
GO: But he was — yeah. It was all about musical timing.
PD: Well, there, again. Oh, dear — the Schnozzola. Jimmy Durante was a pianist. But, you see, it explains why they’re good comics. They listen to the audience; they don’t step on their own laughs. I mean, I’ve worked with actors who don’t know anything about it! And they’ll walk right on your laugh. You know, you deliver the line, and they come in. You can’t get a laugh. They don’t hear it. You have to tell ’em: You gotta wait…. That’s the way it is. It’s music — it’s music. And if it isn’t music, it isn’t any good.
GO: Is it more difficult before they know you? Because I think– I mean, obviously, when you become Phyllis Diller, and you’re a star …
PD: You’re accepted.
GO: … people come in, and they’re ready to laugh.
PD: That is true.
GO: But, I mean, is the timing and stuff more difficult when you’re breaking in?
PD: Well, you don’t even know about it — you don’t even have it yet. You get it from experience. Of course, it’s a natural thing with musicians and with a born comic. I’m a born comic.
GO: Did you ever bomb?
PD: Of course … of course.
GO: I don’t know. I can’t imagine you bombing.
PD: Not often … but of course. Especially when completely unknown — brand-new. You’re doing something free, and you get up, and there’s no light on you. There’s no way. I mean, these things happen. Or even after you’re known, someone does a long, passionate speech about cancer — and you’re supposed to follow that. You can bomb … you can bomb.

GO: So, were there any other women working when you broke in?
PD: No, not really. But a lot of people point out that there was a girl called Pat Carroll … She was married to the head of ICM. Or GAC — General Artists Incorporated. In other words, you saw her once on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” She was wonderful. But– no woman ever really did it. There was a black woman I’ve heard of, whom I never saw — but they were fairly unknown.
GO: There were a couple of great Borscht Belt women comedians.
PD: Who?
GO: Belle Barth … And Pearl Williams.
PD: Pearl Williams?
GO: Yeah.
PD: Was she black?
GO: I don’t know. She looked black, sounded Jewish.
PD: I’ve heard of Belle Barth, but I never heard her.
GO: But her act was half-Yiddish. I mean, it was very …
PD: Is your fly open?
GO: Is it? Oh, my God!
PD: Stand up. You can’t do it sitting down. Boy, I better travel with you.
GO: Well, you know, with the button fly, it’s a little more…
PD: It’s a button?
GO: Yeah.
PD: Where would you ever get a button fly?
GO: London.
PD: See, I love your suit.
GO: You know, this is from the same tailor Prince Charles uses.
PD: Please, darling — let me feel it.
GO: Yeah.
PD: Oh, my– Oh, and get these buttons!
GO: Yeah. I dressed up for you.
PD: Baby! (GO laughs) This was bought in London, on Beacham Street.
GO: You look great.
PD: Yeah, Beacham Street. It came from Paris.
GO: So how did you develop your visual image with the hair?
PD: By evolution — evolution. Started out with nothing. I looked like the woman next door. Then I realized you don’t have to pay to look at the woman next door. And I used to think of Sophie Tucker, with all the feathers and the jewels — oh, what awful taste. I ended up realizing why: bigger room; feathers, jewels — anything. Get the focus. In fact, I’m very big with spotlights. Two spotlights, me, a curtain — that’s it. Nothing else. I don’t even want a piece of Kleenex showing. Focus. (Pause)
GO: How did the hair thing start, though? You said you evolved …
PD: By accident. Remember I told you it was so abused. I went to a scalp clinic in New York where they treated all the big stars.
GO: Yeah.
PD: Supposed to be able to grow hair. And what he told me to do was to lean over– And he gave me this little round– You’ve seen those little brushes — plastic, with the little …
GO: Yeah, yeah.
PD: Okay. Lean over, every moment you can, and do this. All right. I had short bleached hair — and I did what he said, like a maniac. And it was days when in New York I might have 10 interviews — went from one to another. I walked right on television with my hair standing straight up. (GO laughs) It caught on. (Laughs) And, you know, I realized: This is okay.
GO: Yeah.
PD: Do you realize that that has become, to this day, a hairdo?
GO: Yeah. (Laughs)
PD: They’re still doing it? Spiked? And they call it “bedhead.” Or a hair-don’t. (Laughs)
GO: So you were the first punk.
PD: I really was. The way I dressed was the first punk. But little did I know — I had no idea. So there you go. But the hair was an accident. But, you see, I listened. And someone said something, and I realized: Hey, this is good.
GO: Yeah. (Pause) I think part of your appeal was that you could have been the woman next door. I mean, like my mother was like a huge fan of yours, and I know it because she was thinking: She’s like me, you know.
PD: They identified — women. First it was the gay crowd. They embraced me completely. And then women, next. Then the women brought their husbands.
GO: Yeah. (Pause)
PD: And then I had everybody. And kids. Well, one of my rules– When I started out, I made rules for myself. I wanted to be sure I entertained — don’t show off. You know, some people want you to know how talented they are. Entertain. Get laughs, okay? The other– I wanted to appeal to anyone from the age of three to 103 — and I have. Kids like me. They like the image. They’ll sit and laugh. Isn’t that cute?
GO: Yeah. Yeah, my kid would like you.
PD: How old’s your kid?
GO: I’ve got a five-year-old who loves jokes.
PD: That’s good.
GO: Hs says: Daddy, I got a joke for you. I’ll say: What is it? And he says: Why did the chicken cross the road? I’ll say: To get to the other side? He’ll say: No, to get a pizza! And then he’ll like roar laughing. Yeah. I mean, he’s kinda like you, with different punch lines for the same setup, because it’s usually: Why did the chicken cross the road?
PD: He starts with that.
GO: Yeah. He’s got a couple now, but that was the first one.
PD: Oh, I’ve got jokes you can– I got a joke — one joke especially — you gotta take home for the kid.
GO: Yeah.
PD: All right. How long was Moses in the bullrush?
GO: I give up. How long?
PD: (Holds her hands a foot apart. Laughter)
GO: That’s a good one.
PD: That’s a kid joke. My mother taught me that. You see, I had everything pushing me into this. I was always pushed into it.
GO: Was your mother funny?
PD: I don’t think she was funny. She was … busy. And efficient.
GO: So you wanted to get attention. Is that why you started performing?
PD: No, I was, again, pushed into it. My friends — my girlfriends — we had what we called a sorority in high school. Please. It was like a group of girls …
… who decided to exclude other girls. (Laughs) I never thought of that before — that’s exactly what it was. I played the piano … so they always wanted me to play the piano. And when I played the piano, it became Woody Woodbury. I talked. So I was … I was kind of the … entertainer of the group?
And I made ’em laugh. But I did it automatically — and, of course, I was asked to do it. Now I get to college, and at the dorm, after dinner they’d go to the piano. Get me up there. I played the piano. I think I was always pushed into it. And, of course, it was my husband — my real husband, Sherwood Diller — who insisted that I become a comic. Well, he saw me doing it every day.

PD: Let me show you my office. I have to go to my office, to give you that list of musicians who are comics — comics who are musicians.
GO: Victor Borge’s another one.
PD: Oh, boy — you know it.
GO: I love your house.
PD: Oh, it’s adorable, isn’t it?
GO: Yeah. I always get jealous when I come to L.A. and see people’s big houses.
PD: I know. ‘Cause we have room, and luscious outdoors. ‘Cause in Manhattan everything is small– I used to have a place in The Lombardy Hotel.
Have you read my book?
GO: The recent book? No. But I’d love to. I collect books, and I love funny books. My favorites, are Buddy Hackett’s golf book … and Bob Hope’s golf book.
PD: Oh, I bet they’re funny. I’ll tell you another very funny one was, early in her career Joan Rivers — that little slut that she loved to talk about.
GO: Heidi Abromowitz.
PD: Heidi Abromowitz! She wrote a book about her. And the other one about gaining weight and losing weight. Two funny, funny, funny books. And … do you want to look at some of my paintings?
GO: Sure, yeah.
PD: This is The Giuseppe Verdi Room.
GO: Oh, wonderful.
PD: And this is the kitty’s room. And this is a room, back here, which we call The Pump Room. See here? Pump Room.
GO: Yeah.
PD: ‘Cause it’s got a pump. (Laughs)
GO: Oh, oh.
PD: More paintings….
GO: Such a wonderful house.
PD: Isn’t it the greatest?
GO: Yeah. I love that the powder room is called The Edith Head.
PD: And the lovely courtyard. You can put the kitty out here, and she’s safe. The coyotes won’t get her. And this is the card room. I play every day. Do you play cards?
GO: I do.
PD: I invented a gin game that is fascinating. Much better than just plain old gin. I play every day with Elliot Gould. I just won at solitaire. That’s the second I’ve won today. Now, you know, that’s unusual — don’t you think?
GO: That’s unusual — yeah.
PD: Well, there’s certain things you gotta learn about. Not to jeopardize this by playing that too soon.
GO: My grandmother told me that.
PD: Did she? Well, had to learn that myself. Your grandmother must be terribly smart.
GO: She was brilliant. Whatever I got, I got from her, I think. She was funny. She was a nurse in the Navy. She was very adventurous. She was a flapper.
PD: Well, my mother was a Bloomer Girl. You know, when I was born, women still weren’t allowed to vote. Think of that.
GO: Yeah, that’s amazing. My grandmother went to China in the Navy.
PD: Here’s another list: comics from Ohio.
GO: I knew about some of these. Tim Conway, when I was a kid, was on television in Cleveland. But I didn’t know about Paul Lynde. Martin Mull is a painter.
PD: A fabulous painter and a neighbor of mine.
GO: So did you have a full-time hairdresser?
PD: I never had a hairdresser in my life.
GO: You did your own hair?
PD: No, you just slapped the wig on and …
GO: You let nature take its course?
PD: First you buy the fright wig, and then you– You take it to a hairdresser to tease it, so that it will stand up like that. It won’t just fall down — it’ll stand up…. Oh, I didn’t show you the wig room. It’s upstairs. You want to see it?
GO: Sure, but let me take your picture. You’ve got the spotlight right behind your head, like a halo.
PD: Hey, baby. (To her assistant.) He came in with his fly open.
GO: Oh….gee.
PD: Now, suck it in — just for the picture.
GO: It’s sucked in and my fly is buttoned.
PD: His fly was open — the pink shirt was sticking out of his fly! And I thought: Does he want me, or what? (Laughter) Take him upstairs. Show him the wig room, my studio and the pictures. And I will be down here, waiting for you … breathlessly.

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