Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rant #793: While I've Been Gone, They Left Us

Two iconic personalities left us during the time I was not able to write anything on this blog.

I realize it's kind of old news already, but I figure that my take on these two people would be new, so I thought to myself, "Why not?"

Phyllis Diller was one of our most popular female comics, and probaby one of our favorite funny people, period.

She made a living poking fun at herself, at her personal foibles, and her personal life. Without her, there certainly wouldn't have been a Joan Rivers or a Rosanne, but Diller did this all the while laughing along with us.

She was a housewife with a house full of kids when her first husband persuaded her to try standup after he lost his job.

She was subsequently discovered by Bob Hope, and the rest is history.

She made fun of her looks, her face, her body, her legs, and her relationship with second husband Ward Donovan, a union that lasted mere months but from which Diller generated decades of jokes. "Fang" was his name, and she used his name liberally throughout her routines.

The next icon was a true American hero. Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died last week as we landed a rover on Mars.

But I'm afriad that landing a machine on a sister planet, no matter how stupendous a feat, pales in comparison to putting a man on the moon.

He, Buzz Aldrin and Edward Collins went up in their Apollo spacecraft, and in 1969, thrilled the world with their landing on the moon.

Where were you when this happened? Everybody who was alive knew where they were that day. I sure do--right in front of my family's old Dumont black and white TV, and I was mesmerized by this mission.

"One small leap for man, one giant leap for mankind" was what Armstrong said when he lept onto the moon surface, and whether he was misquoted or not--he claimed that he said "One small leap for a man," but it was not picked up by the audio transmission that way--it was a stupendous achievement.

Aldrin followed him onto the surface, as did other astronauts, but he was the first.

He could have cashed in on this mightily, but he was a bashful hero, and he never did make a fortune off of this accomplishment. He was more into teaching, more into living life his way.

And he did just that.

Not to compare Diller and Armstrong, but each was a pioneer in their own way.

And each will be fondly remembered by a generation that was allowed to dream, allowed to think that we could do anything if we put our minds to it.

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