Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Did You Know Phyllis Diller was Once a Copywriter?

In the mid-1950s, Phyllis Diller worked as a copywriter for a radio station in Oakland, California, KSFO.

She needed the meager money to help support five kids and a ne'er-do-well husband she fondly called "Fang."

"He was a talker," Diller told a biographer. "He sounded like he would rule the world, but he couldn't hold a job. He just sat there and drank beer all  day. He didn't even do that well."

Although the station's low man on the totem pole ("I was an Office girl to them. They couldn't see me at all."), Diller caught people's attention.

"Early on, she was one of the funniest dames, marvelously brittle," said Terrence O'Flaherty, a critic for The San Francisco Chronicle who always picked up her copy verbatim. "She writes some of the best and most delightful commercials in the broadcasting business."

For a fancy Oakland restaurant named Sea Wolf, Diller wrote, "The chefs are so temperamental, the wolf has a psychiatrist in attendance at all times."

Evenings, she would rehearse her stand-up act in front of a mirror after making dinner and putting the kids to bed.

Diller's show-biz break cameand her copywriting career endedin March 1955, when she was asked to perform at The Purple Onion, one of the Bay Area's hottest comedy clubs. The invitation followed Diller's appearance as a contestant on Groucho Marx's game show, You Bet Your Life.

NOTE: This post is the 6th in a series of 5 (what, you never heard of inflation?)
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