Phyllis Diller (July 17, 1917 – Aug. 20, 2012)
If William Windom was an “everyman” sort of actor, then Phyllis Diller was an “everywoman” of comedy. Both of them recently left this earth, but each left it a better place. May their energy live on in the collective memory of our society.
People either loved her or hated her, but comedienne Phyllis Diller found the truth like no other female before her in situations unique to women. She was famous for firing off one self-deprecating joke after another. Remember these quips? “I spent seven hours today at the beauty parlor; hell, that was just for the estimate,” and “I’m in the 14th year of a 10-day beauty plan.”
She began her career in radio in 1952 on KROW, a station in Oakland, Calif. A few months later, she entered the world of television with her own show, Phyllis Dillis, the Homely Friendmaker. From there, she had roles and appearances in movies, on stage and as a voice in animated cartoons, and a career as a stand-up comedian.
She left behind a filing cabinet filled with about 50,000 jokes. Her raucous laugh, used as punctuation, was her signature.
William Windom (Sept. 28, 1923 – Aug. 16, 2012)
For a man who enjoyed the hobbies of tennis and chess, William Windom’s career in acting kept him moving through comedy and drama—sometimes carefully as a king and sometimes forcefully as Roger Federer.
He contributed humor to the world. Think of James Thurber and remember the TV show, My World and Welcome to It. That was Windom. He won an Emmy as best comic actor for that role in 1970. Fans of Murder, She Wrote will remember him as Dr. Seth Hazlitt, a role he carried for 10 years, until 1995. He appeared in roles on The Twilight Zone and Star Trek, as well.
Windom also contributed some seriousness. Think of the movie To Kill a Mockingbird. Remember Mr. Gilmer, the prosecutor of Tom Robinson? That was Windom.
He purchased a small island in 1990 in Windom, Minn., a city that was named for his great-grandfather. The island is a wildlife refuge. He managed to leave a legacy in the world of entertainment as well as in the realm of preservation of the earth’s natural beauty.
By reading these small tributes, you are a conscious witness to lives well-lived. Be inspired!