I’d estimate that 75 percent of my childhood memories are Muppet related. Thanks to my religious devotion to tapes of The Muppet Show, I built an impressive working knowledge of random seventies B-list stars, like Leslie Uggams and Hal Linden. But it also introduced me to a few of my eternal, enduring FOB’s, or Favorite Old Broads.
Phyllis Diller’s episode endeared her to me forever*. She Herself was in an episode of Robot Chicken as the voice of the actually quite terrifying “Phyllis Diller Spray N’ Play.” What kind of a genius has a resume that includes Bob Hope movies and Family Guy? She’s in her nineties, for Chrissakes! She’s still funny and cranky and man, do I love that sassy old broad.
The Muppet Show also introduced me to Cloris Leachman, who then I only knew as the French Revolution Lady from History of the World. Now I know that she’s great in everything. Well, except High Anxiety, but it’s not her fault. I can’t wait for the director’s cut of Inglourious Basterds, a movie I love so much I think I will marry it. The Mighty Cloris is in a cut scene where Sgt. Donny Donowitz has her sign his bat before leaving for France. I think seeing it might make my brain explode.
Now, keep in mind, I’m living the dream: I am Liz Lemon. I have a Princess Leia collection and love Mexican snack foods. But someday I hope to grow up and become Colleen Donaghy, Alec baldwin’s mother on 30 Rock. And so I also nominate Elaine Stritch for FOB. My favorite scene is when she meets Jack’s fiancee in the first season and makes her repeat “the petunias are in bloom,” saying; “I heard you dear. I just wanted to make sure you heard you.” Also she lives in the sacred Hotel Carlyle, where once I saw Woody Allen play clarinet with his ragtime band and had two excellent fifteen dollar drinks. Speaking of Master Heywood Allen, Elaine May will always be my Queen FOB as she is in the rare company of lady directors of real honest-to-God motion pictures and also saves the otherwise crummy second half of Small Time Crooks.
For being the great Dorothy Zbornak and Femputer from Futurama, Bea Arthur is hereby canonized as a Saint FOB. I remember watching Golden Girls a lot as a kid, but only as an adult do I really appreciate it. The writing is quick and clever and the jokes are surprisingly dirty.
Oh, ye saucy, kickass old broads, we bow to thee and hope only to be as sharp and mean and filthy as you are when we are so very old.
*Despite it being one of the early “creepy-looking Fozzie” episodes.
[Ed. note: Ben points out that Elaine Stritch is also in Small Time Crooks. Too bad that movie is only semi-funny.]