Phyllis Diller was a wacky original, one of the great comedians from a time when men dominated comedy. We remember Diller’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Phyllis Diller was a wacky original, one of the great comedians from a time when men dominated comedy. She was known for her flamboyant clothing, unruly hair, and brash laugh – a cackle that was frequently directed at herself, as she poked fun at her “bird legs” and her unusual looks. But Diller herself wasn’t the only target of her jokes – plenty were reserved for “Fang,” her husband (who reportedly bore no actual resemblance to Diller’s three real-life partners). In addition to stand-up, Diller also provided voices for characters in a variety of cartoons including “A Bug’s Life” and “Family Guy,” and she starred on the sitcom “The Pruitts of Southampton.” We remember Diller’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1957: Bruce Crump, U.S. drummer with Molly Hatchet who played on hits including “Flirtin’ With Disaster,” is born in Memphis, Tennessee.
1952: Nicolette Larson, U.S. singer who worked with Neil Young and had a hit in 1978 with “Lotta Love,” is born in Helena, Montana.
1950: Phoebe Snow, U.S. folk singer known for her 1975 hit “Poetry Man,” is born in New York, New York.
In the months that followed, Snow appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, received a Grammy nomination for best new artist, and toured as the opening act for Jackson Browne and Paul Simon. She also became pregnant with a daughter who would change the course of her life and career. Snow’s daughter, Valerie, was born with severe brain damage. Her decision to care for her daughter herself, rather than putting her in an institution, meant a full-time caretaking job with much less time to devote to music. Read more
1935: Diahann Carroll, the groundbreaking actress and singer whose 1968 TV show “Julia” was the first to portray a Black woman with a professional career, is born in the Bronx, New York.
Brubeck got the inspiration for “Take Five” after hearing Morello playing a 5/4 beat while warming up backstage before a concert with alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. The pianist asked Desmond to write a melody in 5/4 time for a tune that would feature a Morello drum solo. Brubeck suggested combining two themes that Desmond wrote to create “Take Five,” which became a surprise Top 40 hit on jukeboxes and one of the most best-known jazz recordings. Read more
1928: Vince Guaraldi, U.S. jazz pianist who composed and performed the well-known music for the “Peanuts” animated specials, is born in San Francisco, California.
The jazz pianist – with his Vince Guaraldi Trio – composed and performed the theme song for the Charlie Brown animated specials based on the Charles Schulz comic strip. The song is a classic, one that brings to mind the whole gang and, especially, Snoopy’s exuberant dancing. But it’s far from the only thing Guaraldi did. In fact, before he even became involved with “Peanuts,” he won a Grammy Award for his 1962 single “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.” Read more
1917: Phyllis Diller, U.S. comedian known for her kooky onstage persona and colorful clothing, is born in Lima, Ohio.
From her wacky dresses to her signature cigarette holder (unlit – Diller was a lifelong nonsmoker), from her unmistakable laugh to her joke cabinet (donated to the Smithsonian a few years ago, it contained more than 50,000 jokes and gags), Diller was an original. And for generations of funny women, she was an inspiration. Read more
1912: Art Linkletter, Canadian television host of “House Party” and “People Are Funny” who was known best for his “Kids Say the Darndest Things” segments, is born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
One of the most popular segments on “House Party” was Linkletter’s interviews with children, which came to be called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Linkletter would ask children questions, and their responses kept the audience in stitches. The segment was such a hit that Linkletter published several books based on it, and it later became its own TV show, with Bill Cosby as host. Read more
1910: Barbara O’Neil, U.S. actress who played Ellen O’Hara, Scarlett’s mother, in “Gone With the Wind,” is born in St. Louis, Missouri.
1899: James Cagney, U.S. actor who won an Academy Award for his performance in “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” is born in New York, New York.
1889: Erle Stanley Gardner, U.S. lawyer and author known best for his Perry Mason series, is born in Malden, Massachusetts.