A Little About Me
PHYLLIS KATZ was born and raised in Chicago, where she began her writing career as an editorial assistant at McGraw-Hill Publications. Simultaneously, she signed up for The Second City Workshops, at the suggestion of actor Joe Flaherty – whom she met in the lobby — and began a lifelong love affair with improvisational theatre. While there, she performed with The Second City Touring Co., The Nightmare Relief Co., and Mother’s Kisses, and periodically did commercial voice-overs. And she began to teach improv.
Phyllis moved to Los Angeles in the mid-70s with 5/8 of Mother’s Kisses. The group performed sketches at The Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd. and soon afterward she joined the newly-formed sketch/improv troupe, The Groundlings. She helped build their new theatre on Melrose Avenue, as well as their name, and with five other members, created The Groundlings School, where she’s taught improv, song improv, character workshops, and specialty classes. She’s also directed a number of Groundlings shows.
She has appeared in numerous television, film and stage productions, and was a regular on three TV series (The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour, Wizards & Warriors, and Sherman Oaks, in which she was the female lead). In addition, she’s written the lyrics for three TV themes, (Women in Prison, On the Road With Guy Di Simone, and Scorch), and was a contributing writer for both On The Television and Son of the Beach. She also was a recurring performer on Radio Free Oz, with The Firesign Theatre’s Phil Proctor and Peter Bergman.
Her one-woman show, Katz: Music & Characters, won a Drama-Logue award for best performance; her play; Codependently Yours (in which she assumed the persona of Gloria French, a darkly comic bowling alley lounge singer) was an L.A. Weekly Award nominee and her first film short, Shoedini, ran on I-film with a 10 rating.
In 2008, she was commissioned to write a series of original monologues for the North Shore Music Theatre’s Summer Stages ’08. The work has been performed in three U.S. cities and now is being published as a workbook, Awesome Monologues for Teen Actors.
For the past six years, she periodically has been engaged as an actor, teacher, and director with The Virginia Avenue Project, a community arts program in Santa Monica, that works with at-risk kids.
Phyllis continues to work as an actor, and teaches and designs improv workshops for both businesses and actors. Recently she directed Freak Like Tennessee, a two-woman show that played Nashville’s American Country Music Hall of Fame. This year she begins her fourth season teaching improv to L.A. Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artists.
Phyllis has two brothers – writer/producer Allan Katz, and Stu Katz, an attorney and jazz musician, whose new CD Family Affair – Ira Sullivan and Stu Katz – Live at Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase has just been released by Origin Records.
She’s married to photographer Rob Lewine, who moonlights as a songwriter and bassist for The Enzymes. Phyllis and Rob live in Los Angeles with their dogs, Gary and Brian.