You Bet Your Life

I still remember it.

You bet your life, I do.

Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life

All though it might have been a rerun couple of years later, it was — that long ago, and I was definitely young at the time (sigh).

I remember it, even though, she didn’t have the crazy hair.

But you could see Groucho was impressed.  He even said so at the time.

It takes talent to know talent.  Natural talent, that is — it’s called Temperament


The older generation of comedians recognition of the new generation of comedians.

Groucho Marx recognized it.

In 1955, while working as a journalist for the San Leandro News-Observer, Diller appeared as a contestant on Groucho Marx‘s game show, You Bet Your Life.  That led to her to betting her life on being a comedian, something she knew, privately, she was — all her life.  A path breaking life, at that.

Phyllis Diller, a Performer Artisan, knew that hard work — and she had done that — and determination were necessary, she had that too.  She was to be herself. That appearance with Groucho directly paved the way to her getting a stand-up gig at the Purple Onion.  There had been female comedians before, like Gracie Allen, but never a stand-up female comedian, by herself.

“Please recognize she paved the way single handedly for years for us female comedians,” wrote Kathie Griffin on Twitter.

Diller first appeared as a stand-up at The Purple Onion on March 7, 1955, and remained there for 87 straight weeks. Diller appeared on “Del Courtney’s Showcase” on KPIX television on November 3, 1956. After moving to Webster Groves, in St Louis in 1961, Diller honed her act in St. Louis clubs such as Gaslight Square’s Crystal Palace. Mid-1960s – St Louis was always home to her. Getting her first start on the Charlotte Peters Show in St Louis, where many got their start. Diller’s fame grew when she co-starred with Bob Hope in 23 television specials and three films in the 1960s: Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!, Eight on the Lam, and The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell. Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! did well at the box office and Diller accompanied Hope to Vietnam in 1966 with his USO troupe during the height of the Vietnam War.

Throughout the 1960s, she appeared regularly as a special guest on many television programs. For example, she appeared as one of the What’s My Line? Mystery Guests. The blindfolded panel on that evening’s broadcast included Sammy Davis, Jr., and they were able to discern Diller’s identity in just three guesses. Also, Diller made regular cameo appearances making her trademark wisecracks on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. 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!” [Wikipedia]

Actually she was an equal opportunity comedian,  she was dishing one-liners about her maded-up husband, Fang. “I should have suspected my husband was lazy,” she once joked. “On our wedding day, his mother told me, `I’m not losing a son. I’m gaining a couch.'”

Performers have the special ability, even among the Artisans, to delight those around them with their warmth, their good humor, and with their often extraordinary skills in music, comedy, and drama. Whether on the job, with friends, or with their families, Performers are exciting and full of fun, and their great social interest lies in stimulating those around them to take a break from work and worry, to lighten up and enjoy life. [Please Understand Me II]

Diller passed away August 20th 2012 in her Los Angeles home at age 95. She faced the end, fittingly, “with a smile on her face.”

They give what they have to one and all without expectation of reward, just as they love freely, and without expecting anything in return. In so many ways, Performers view life as an eternal cornucopia from which flows an endless supply of pleasures. [Please Understand Me II]

You the bet your life, she did.

Gee, the marvels of the Internet, they even uploaded the episode, now I can remember it better.  One gutsy lady.

Be YOU…  I never accepted any negativity.  I had my own private, positive thoughts. — Phyllis Diller

2 thoughts on “You Bet Your Life”

  1. Beautiful, an inspiration, a philosopher, and an entertainer. Another beautiful Performer Artisan. But more importantly, she was herself, as she says, it was ‘me’. The big answers of life, her life, were within herself. The magic of believing.

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