Her Dinner With Phyllis Diller


That’s right, you heard me. Saturday night, I had dinner with the ORIGINAL Queen of the Oddballs, Phyllis Diller!!

Who is this woman that she can do that?

She’s Hillary Carlip, author of Queen of the Oddballs


and the upcoming A la Cart


— and she’s done, as you will see, many, many other things (I suspect she might be one of those people who never sleeps … or has secret clones!).

The link to the Phyllis Diller dinner goes to her blog at MySpace. I don’t like doing that because all of you at work (or at an Apple Store — or in prison!) are probably prevented from accessing it. But I have no choice. That’s the only place it’s at.

And if you’re reading this on an iPhone, you’ll especially hate some of the links here — because they require Flash. Trust me, you’ll want to see the A la Cart Flash movie intro!

In Hillary’s account, I specifically looked to see if Phyllis Diller would mention something both she and Liberace had in common. It’s a book. And she did:

So, our friend Jack who went with us told the story about when he was a teenager living in North Carolina, he wrote Phyllis a fan letter and asked how he could break into the entertainment industry. She actually answered his letter PERSONALLY, and included a Xeroxed document called HOW TO GET INTO SHOW BIZ. One of her steps, and what she continually credits for her enormous success, is a book called The Magic of Believing by Claude Bristol.

The Magic of Believing by Claude Bristol is a classic. (Here’s a web page about Bristol that didn’t exist when I last searched for him.) Liberace swore by this book:

Liberace was not a reader. He left no evidence at all of devotion to the written word. In the numerous photographs of his homes, books appear nowhere. In his nearly seventy years, he mentioned only one book by name. This one, however, he considered a semi-sacred text, and Claude M. Bristol’s “The Magic of Believing” offers a nice guide to the entertainer’s values, not least in the distracted last five years of his life. It does more. It illuminates significant aspects of popular culture in the United States; just so, it offers additional insights into the sources of Liberace’s extraordinary appeal in the American heartland.

— from “Liberace: An American Boy,” by Darden Asbury Pyron

(Steve Salerno over at SHAMblog is probably cringing at all this!)

I like Bristol’s book and I find it very interesting that two of the most popular performers of the 1960s actually attribute their success to what they read therein. That linkage also gives me an opportunity to embed a YouTube clip showing them both together:

Now go to the top link and read the funny text and see all the amazing photos!

Explore posts in the same categories: Books - Nonfiction, MySpace, TV, Video - Online, Writers - Dead, Writers - Living

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