When you start diving into Popular Culture of the 1960s, the part that doesn’t focus on the most prominent or identifiable names associated with Youth Culture, the name that most frequently pops up is Phyllis Diller. Probably not considered synonymous with Youth Culture, Diller was without question the most recognizable Female comic working in America during that time who held broad appeal for a lot of people – and that included teenagers.
But her core audience was an older demographic; skewing more to the post-30 crowd. The crowd that went to Vegas, watched daytime TV, subscribed to the Suburbia lifestyle, preferring a Moscow Mule over Window Pane. To say she wasn’t a pivotal figure in comedy and certainly the evolution of Female comics on stage would be going way off the mark. She’s been cited as an inspiration and role model for Women in Comedy ever since she appeared on Ed Sullivan. Joan Rivers, Lily Tomlin, Ellen DeGeneres, Margaret Cho and Roseanne Barr have all publicly acknowledged Diller’s role in their careers.
So this appearance, one of many Phyllis Diller made throughout her career, was for Art Linkletter whose House Party series ran fr over 30 years on both radio and TV, comes from January 19, 1967 (52 years ago yesterday, to be exact). She’s promoting Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints, which had been published only a few weeks earlier – she could add a new career to the several others she had going at the time – this one was Author.
It’s always fascinating to revisit various aspects of our Popular Culture over the years and decades, to see how much has stood the test of time and how much hasn’t. Phyllis Diller was outrageous and her humor was fresh, although in places most likely dated – but it was never mean and it never made fun of anyone other than herself. Something timeless about that. Something fresh about that.
And let’s not forget Art Linkletter – well, we’ll save a whole other post for him at some point soon.
Here is Phyllis Diller, as interviewed by Art Linkletter from House Party – January 19, 1967 from the CBS Radio Network.