Show Business: Hooked into Lily

The voice sounds like an air-raid siren with adenoids. The face, a passably good copy of a pickle, is caught between a snarl and a smile, the snarl usually winning out. "You are not talking with just anyone's fool," she snorts indignantly. "I am a high school graduate." Who could doubt that Ernestine, the world's most famous telephone operator, has her diploma—or that Lily Tomlin, her creator, is the funniest, most inventive comedienne to come along since Elaine May?

In one of her Ernestine routines, she is dunning an invisible Gore Vidal —whose name...

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