Dave, I’m only posting this Wednesday if you mention Al Snow (who shared her hometown of Lima, Ohio) in your Phyllis Diller post! – Rob, via text message
Man, negotiating these blog posts is hard work! Rest assured, Rob, I will mention Al Snow. The guy deserves to be mentioned.
First off, sorry for the week-long hiatus. I was entertaining a friend from Germany and preparing for a final last Friday (I have another one this Friday), and Arto was up in LA for a film class and had a busy work week, and Rob was working on an insane case. So that happened. Interestingly, though, we brought in more hits last week than in any week in this blog’s history other than the two weeks of this year’s Olympics. Just goes to show you that it’s not the content that matters 🙂
All cynicism aside… let’s talk about Phyllis Diller!
If you don’t know much about the recently-deceased comedienne (who passed away on August 20th of this year), Wikipedia is here to help.
“She created a stage persona of a wild-haired and eccentrically dressed housewife who made self-deprecating jokes about her age and appearance, her terrible cooking, and a husband named “Fang”, while pretending to smoke from a long cigarette holder.” – Wikipedia
What Tina Fey (real name, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey) said about her Sarah Palin impression holds true for Funny Names Blog posts too: you know you’re dealing with good comedy when you can use direct quotes and still get laughs.
Phyllis Diller was born in 1917 to Perry and Frances Driver née Romshe. Perry was 20 years older than Frances. Phyllis had her first brush with funny-named awesomeness when she moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan in World War II. In 1952, she began filming a show called Phyllis Dillis, The Homely Friendmaker and then began work as an advertiser for Belfast Root Beer, and later did her first standup show in 1955 at the awesome sounding venue The Purple Onion.
She then moved to a town called Webster Groves and began co-starring with Bob Hope in 23 TV specials and three films, including Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! The 1960’s saw Diller star in two TV shows: The Pruitts of Southamptonand The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show.
She was known for her wisecracking comedy. As Wikipedia explains:
Self-deprecating to a fault, a typical Diller joke had her running after a garbage truck pulling away from her curb. “Am I too late for the trash?” she’d yell. The driver’s reply: “No, jump right in!”
Her career continued well into the new millennium, with her later work featuring such highlights as a role on 7th Heaven where she gets drunk while cooking dinner for the show’s too-good-to-be-true family, and a role on The Drew Carey Show as Mimi’s mom. Looking at the top photo, it’s easy to see a resemblance. (P.S. That reference will be a lot funnier if you know what Mimi looks like.)
She will be greatly missed…
Oh yes, about that promise to Rob I made earlier. So if you aren’t an American male in his early to mid 20’s, you probably don’t know who Al Snow is. Let me introduce you. Al Snow, who like Ms. Diller was born in Lima, Ohio, is a retired professional wrestler who played many roles as a mid-carder (basically a guy who was at the top level but not a star) in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Arguably his most famous gimmick was as a mentally deranged individual who was always in the presence of his companion “Head.” The aptly-named Head was a mannequin head who – like many mannequins – had a love for high fashion. In this case, high fashion meant donning the phrase “HELP ME!” in backwards letters on “her” forehead, just like Al Snow did with his.
Perhaps Al Snow’s most famous moment was when Wal-Mart pulled an “Al Snow and Head” action figure off its shelves in 1999 because supposedly people were uncomfortable with an action figure containing a disembodied plastic head. If you’re a fan of the People of Walmart blog, you will quickly realize that it’s unlikely a miniature disembodied fake plastic mannequin head was ever the most disturbing thing inside any Walmart.
Al Snow’s other major claim to fame is the constant jokes that Mick Foley – also known as Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack – makes about Al Snow’s career (which included stints as a middle-eastern superhero named Avatar, the masked Japanese character Shinobi, and the unadorned white guy Leif Cassidy) in his autobiographies. It says quite a bit that Al Snow could be mocked by someone who dressed up in costumes like these ones for years:
And the fact that Al Snow may not have been the most peculiar character to emerge from Lima, Ohio says a lot about the delightfully zany Phyllis Diller. May she rest in peace!