Phyllis Diller, the cackling comedian with electric-shock hair who built an influential career in film and nightclubs with stand-up routines that mocked irascible husbands, domestic drudgery and her extensive plastic surgery, died Aug. 20 at her home in Brentwood, Calif. She was 95.
Although there has been a long history of comic actresses, Ms. Diller was among the first to tackle the male preserve of stand-up comedy. She used her first husband for comedic fodder by disguising him as a fictitious character named “Fang.” Her jokes — roasts of Fang’s drinking habits, sexual shortcomings and professional failures — reversed traditional household roles. She once said “his finest hour lasted a minute and a half.”
Phyllis Diller refined her craft in several performance environments. The first is nightclubs. She made her professional debut in 1955 at San Francisco’s legendary nightspot, the Purple Onion, where she was held over for eighty-seven consecutive weeks.
From the 1960s through the 1990s, she performed in clubs across the country. In the early 1960s, she appeared at the Bon Soir in Greenwich Village, and had as her opening act a young singer named Barbra Streisand, with whom she shared a tiny dressing room.
A federal appeals court has ruled that Georgia law enforcement can check on the immigration status of criminal suspects who fail to produce proper identification.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that a hold blocking that section of the state's 2011 immigration law should be lifted.
San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency, Muni, has been under fire for accepting ads referring to Arabs and Muslims as "savage" that were placed by anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller.
The ads declare that "in any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man"—a paraphrase of an Ayn Rand quote—while also urging readers to "support Israel" and "defeat jihad."
If Muni had rejected the ads, however, it likely would have violated Geller's First Amendment rights; when New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority tried to block Geller's ads last year, Geller sued, and in July a judge later declared the agency's ad policy unconstitutional.
The U.S. Coast Guard says 97 boats and barges are waiting for passage along an 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River that has been closed because of low water levels.
Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Tippets told The Associated Press on Monday that the stretch of river near Greenville, Miss., has been closed intermittently since Aug. 11, when a vessel ran aground.
Chocolate lovers, rejoice!
Two studies published this week indicate that the delectable treat not only may help reduce blood pressure, but also can improve cognitive function.
Local chocolate makers and confectioners are not surprised.
"There has been a lot of research on the benefits of chocolate, especially higher-percentage chocolate," said Michael Recchiuti, co-owner and chocolatier of San Francisco's Recchiuti Confections, referring to darker, more concentrated chocolates.
In the first study, researchers in Australia took a look at all of the research conducted on chocolate and blood pressure and found that there is a definite, albeit slight, decrease in blood pressure when people start consuming chocolate.
A study unveiled at this year's American Sociological Association meeting purports to show that college students who engage in binge drinking are, on average, happier and more socially satisfied than those who practice moderation.
Colgate University associate professor of sociology Carolyn Hsu, who co-authored the study, says that, despite being aware of the ills associated with binge drinking, students continue to overdo their alcoholic consumption because of a link between binge drinking and improved social status.