Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 01:23 pm
How does she want to be remembered? "For being funny," Diller says immediately. "Well, I should say being kind. I am a kind person. I'm kind to everybody. I treat everybody the same, and I'm proud of that. In fact, that's my religion." Phyllis Diller

Comedian Phyllis Diller -- who paved the way for today's female comics -- has died, TMZ has learned.

Sources close to Diller tell us the comedian died at her L.A. home, surrounded by family. She was 95.

We're told Diller had recently fallen, hurting her wrist and hip, and her health had been on the decline ever since. She had been living in hospice care at her home.

Diller suffered a heart attack in 1999 and was later fitted with a pacemaker.

Phyllis began her career all the way back in 1952 -- and rose to fame with her TV specials alongside Bob Hope in the 1960s.

Later that decade, Phyllis starred in her own show called "The Phyllis Diller Show" ... as well as a variety show called "The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show." She was also a regular on "Laugh In."

She also posed for Playboy -- but the pics were never published.

Diller remained spunky to the very end, famously appearing in the 2005 movie "The Aristocrats," telling an x-rated joke ... better than comics half her age.

Joan Rivers recently appeared on "Watch What Happens Live" and said, Diller "broke the way for every woman comedian.”

Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 01:28 pm
oh gosh

I really liked her. Loved her on the Tonight Show.

We saw her on Broadway in Hello Dolly when I was a teenager.

I've watched a couple of documentaries about female comedians - she was a trailblazer in a lot of ways.

I don't know if I can say RIP Phyllis - I want her to keep on making people laugh.
Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 01:30 pm
Good bye to a life long lived, a good funny lady! May she rest in peace.
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Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 01:32 pm

<turns out I was a tweenager not a teenager when we saw her>
Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 01:40 pm
Green Witch
Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 01:57 pm
I saw her perform in the late 1960's at The Concord in The Catskills. I was about 7 or 8 years old and my grandmother let a cousin and I go to the show thinking it would be family fun. Honestly, my grandmother probably thought Phyllis Diller was a clown in the circus sense based on how she was dressed on the nightclub poster. Apparently, Ms. Diller said some things that were risque or inappropriate for young ladies because at one point my grandmother yelped, jumped up in horror, grabbed my cousin and I by our upper arms and dragged us out of the room like a couple of thieves caught stealing. We had no idea what the problem was because all the jokes were all going over our young heads. Years later I asked an aunt, who was also there, if she remembered what freaked my grandmother out and she thought it was joke about condoms. I assume this was the joke or something like it:

There's a new medical crisis. Doctors are reporting that many men are having allergic reactions to latex condoms. They say they cause severe swelling. So what's the problem?

It was hard to fluster my grandmother who survived the Russian Pogroms by hiding in a cold swamp for two months and left for America by herself at age 15, but a joke about sex seemed to really hit her buttons. RIP Ms. Diller.
Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 02:01 pm
@Green Witch,
Interesting story, thanks for sharing.

Rest well Phyllis.
Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 02:05 pm

I loved the Fang jokes/stories
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Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 02:30 pm
I liked her personality.
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Joe Nation
Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 02:36 pm
She was great.
She was herself.

Not necessarily in that order.

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Lustig Andrei
Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 02:45 pm
Phyllis was one of a kind. And a trailblazer. I miss her already.
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Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 03:46 pm
Thanks for that - I think I just figured out where one of my 'best' jokes comes from and my love of sparkle.

Very Happy
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Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 03:54 pm
I enjoyed Phyllis Diller's early life in the San Francisco Bay and Oakland areas where I lived. BBB

Diller was born Phyllis Ada Driver in Lima, Ohio, the daughter of Frances Ada (née Romshe) (January 12, 1881 – January 26, 1949) and Perry Marcus Driver (June 13, 1862 – August 12, 1948), an insurance agent. She has German and Irish ancestry (the surname "Driver" had been changed from "Treiber" several generations back). Her mother was about twenty years younger than her father. Diller was raised a Methodist.[6] Diller attended Lima's Central High School, then studied for three years at Sherwood Music Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois. She then transferred to Bluffton College in Bluffton, Ohio, where she met fellow "Lima-ite" and classmate Hugh Downs.

Diller was a housewife, mother, and advertising copywriter. During World War II, Diller lived in Ypsilanti, Michigan, while her husband worked at the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant. In the mid-1950s, she made appearances on The Jack Paar Show and was a contestant on Groucho Marx's quiz show You Bet Your Life.

Although she made her career in comedy, Diller had studied the piano for many years. She decided against a career in music after hearing her teachers and mentors play with much more ability than she thought that she would be able to achieve. She still played in her private life, however, and owned a custom-made harpsichord.


Diller began her career working at KROW radio in Oakland in 1952. In November of that year, she began filming a television show titled Phyllis Dillis, the Homely Friendmaker. The 15-minute series was a BART (Bay Area Radio-Television) production, directed for television by ABC's Jim Baker. In the mid 1950s, while residing in the East Bay city of Alameda, California, Diller was employed at KSFO radio in San Francisco. Bill Anderson wrote and produced a television show at KGO-TV called "The Belfast Pop Club," which was hosted by Don Sherwood. "Pop Club" was a half-hour show that combined playing records with "experts" rating them, and dancing girls encouraging audience participation. The show was an early advertisement for Belfast Root Beer, known today as Mug Root Beer. Anderson invited her onto his show on April 23, 1955 as a vocalist.

Diller first appeared as a stand-up at The Purple Onion on March 7, 1955 and remained there for 87 straight weeks. Diller appeared on "Del Courtney's Showcase" on KPIX television on November 3, 1956. After moving to Webster Groves, in St Louis in 1961, Diller honed her act in St. Louis clubs such as Gaslight Square's Crystal Palace. Mid-1960s - St Louis was always home to her. Getting her first start on the Charlotte Peters Show in St Louis, where many got their start. Diller's fame grew when she co-starred with Bob Hope in 23 television specials and three films in the 1960s: Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!, Eight on the Lam, and The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell. Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! performed well at the box office and Diller accompanied Hope to Vietnam in 1966 with his USO troupe during the height of the Vietnam War.

Throughout the 1960s, she appeared regularly as a special guest on many television programs. For example, she appeared as one of the What's My Line? Mystery Guests. The blindfolded panel on that evening's broadcast included Sammy Davis, Jr., and they were able to discern Diller's identity in just three guesses. Also, Diller made regular cameo appearances making her trademark wisecracks on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Self-deprecating to a fault, a typical Diller joke had her running after a garbage truck pulling away from her curb. "Am I too late for the trash?" she'd yell. The driver's reply: "No, jump right in!"

Phylis Diller hamming it up for the camera

Though her main claim to fame was her stand-up comedy act, Diller also appeared in other films besides the three mentioned above, including a cameo appearance as Texas Guinan, the wisecracking nightclub hostess in the 1961 film Splendor in the Grass. She appeared in more than a dozen, usually low-budget, movies, including voice work as The Monster's Mate in the Rankin/Bass animated film Mad Monster Party (1967), co-starring Boris Karloff.

Diller also starred in two short-lived TV series: the half-hour sitcom The Pruitts of Southampton (later retitled The Phyllis Diller Show) on ABC from 1966–1967, and the variety show The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show on NBC in 1968. More recent television appearances for Diller have included at least three episodes between 1999–2003 on the long-running family drama 7th Heaven, in one of which she got drunk while cooking dinner for the household, and a 2002 episode of The Drew Carey Show,[12] as Mimi Bobek's grandmother. She posed for Playboy, but the photos were never run in the magazine. Her voice can be heard in several animated TV shows, including The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972)[12] as herself, Hey Arnold! as Arnold's grandpa's sister Mitzi, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2002) as Jimmy's grand mother, and on Family Guy in 2006 as Peter Griffin's mother, Thelma Griffin.

Diller in 1973

Beginning December 26, 1969, she had a three-month run on Broadway in Hello, Dolly! (opposite Richard Deacon) as the second to last in a succession of replacements for Carol Channing in the title role, which included Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Betty Grable, and Pearl Bailey. After Diller's stint, Ethel Merman took over the role until the end of the show's run in December 1970.

In 1993, she was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

In 1998, Diller provided the vocals for the Queen in Disney/Pixar's animated movie A Bug's Life. In 2005, Diller was featured as one of many contemporary comics in a documentary film, The Aristocrats. Diller, who avoided blue comedy, did a version of an old, risqué vaudeville routine in which she describes herself passing out when she first heard the joke, forgetting the actual content of the joke.

In 2000, she was awarded the Women in Film Lucy Award in recognition of her excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television.

In 2003, after hearing of the donation of Archie Bunker's chair to the Smithsonian Institution, Diller opened her doors to the National Museum of American History and offered up some of her most iconic costume pieces and her gag file, a steel cabinet with 48 file-drawers containing more than 50,000 jokes and gags typewritten on index cards by Diller during her career. From August 12-October 28, 2011, the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery at the National Museum of American History displayed Diller's gag file and some of the objects that became synonymous with her comedic persona-an unkempt wig, wrist-length gloves, cloth-covered ankle boots and a bejeweled cigarette holder.

On January 24, 2007, she appeared on The Tonight Show and performed stand-up, before chatting with Jay Leno.

Diller had a cameo appearance in an episode of ABC's Boston Legal on April 10, 2007. She appeared as herself, confronting William Shatner's character Denny Crane, alleging to have had a torrid love affair with him. They seemed to have enjoyed a romantic moment in a foxhole during World War II.
Phyllis Diller arrives at Korat Air Base, Thailand for the Bob Hope Christmas show in 1966.

Diller was a member of the Society of Singers, which supports singers in need. In June 2001 at the request of fellow Society member and producer Scott Sherman, she appeared at Kansas City and Philadelphia Pride events. The mayor of Philadelphia officially proclaimed June 8, 2001, as "Phyllis Diller Day." She was presented an official proclamation onstage to a standing ovation. In 2006, Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom proclaimed February 5, 2006 "Phyllis Diller Day in San Francisco," which she accepted by phone.

She also recorded at least five comedy LP records, one of which was Born To Sing, released as Columbia CS 9523.

Although known for decades for smoking from long cigarette holders in her comedy act, Diller was a lifelong nonsmoker, and the cigarette holders were stage props that she had specially constructed.[citation needed]
Personal life

Diller, a longtime resident of the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, California, credited much of her success to Bob Hope, in large part because he included her in many of his films and his Vietnam USO shows. She was an accomplished pianist as well as a painter.


Diller was married and divorced twice. She also dated Earl "Madman" Muntz, a pioneer in oddball TV and radio ads. She had six children from her marriage to her first husband, Sherwood Anderson Diller. Her first child was Peter (b. 1940; died 1998 of cancer). Her second child Sally, born in 1944, has suffered from schizophrenia most of her life. Her third child, a son, lived for only two weeks in an incubator. A daughter, Suzanne, was born in 1946, followed by another daughter Stephanie (b. 1948 died 2002 of a stroke) and a son Perry (b. 1950). Diller's second husband was actor Warde Donovan (born Warde Tatum), whom she married on 7 October 1965 and divorced the following year; they apparently re-married and divorced for a second time in 1974. Her youngest son Perry, now 62, oversaw her affairs until her death.[citation needed] Diller was not the mother of actress Susan Lucci, nor TV personality Dorothy Lucey, despite urban legends to that effect, frequently passed through viral emails under trivia headings such as "Did You Know...?" The husband frequently mentioned in her act, "Fang", was entirely fictional, and not based on any of her actual husbands.
Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 04:01 pm
More information about Phyllis:

Comedy's Self-Deprecating Pioneer Phyllis Diller Dies
by Elizabeth Blair
All Things Considered
August 20, 2012

A queen of comedy has died. Phyllis Diller had audiences in stitches for more than five decades with her outlandish get-ups and rapid-fire one-liners. She died at her home, where she had been in hospice care after a fall. She was 95.

Diller was glamorously outrageous — or at least the character she created was glamorously outrageous, the one who wore wigs that made her look like she had her finger in an electrical outlet, who wore gaudy sequined outfits. She was known for her laugh and those nasty jokes about her dimwitted husband, "Fang."

I had been doing [comedy] all my life without realizing it because I'm a born comic. I was born funny. I think funny and ... my attitude toward life was funny.

- Phyllis Diller

"Everybody says, 'Why do you call him Fang?' He's got this one tooth, it's 2 inches long. I met him at a cocktail party; I kept trying to light it," she told her audience. "About all he's good for is opening beer cans."

Phyllis Ada Driver was born in Lima, Ohio. She got a late start in comedy at age 37. At the time, she was married with five children; her husband was chronically unemployed. In 2006, Diller told NPR's Lynn Neary that was why she got into comedy.

"Poverty, and my husband, my husband Sherwood Diller insisted that I become a comic," she said. "The thing is, I had been doing [comedy] all my life without realizing it because I'm a born comic. I was born funny. I think funny, and ... my attitude toward life was funny."

But in the 1950s, when Diller started being funny for a living, there were no female stand-up comedians making it big. Some critics have said Diller succeeded because a lot of her material was about mocking herself — her skills as a housewife and her looks — which made her less of a threat to male comics.

"I was so ugly my own Ouija board told me to go to hell. A peeping Tom threw up on my window sill," she joked to her audience.
Diller poses with a photo at her Los Angeles home in 2005.
Enlarge Chris Pizzello/AP

Diller poses with a photo at her Los Angeles home in 2005.

But in real life Diller never let her looks get in the way. In addition to standup, movies and TV, she was an avid painter and a classically trained pianist. She performed with dozens of symphony orchestras as the character Dame Illya Dillya. She even got some pretty good reviews.

Diller was also a gourmet cook, unlike her stage persona.

"Of course last week I had a grease fire in the kitchen," she joked. "It was in the sink, actually. I had a greasy sink. I have watched bugs slide to their death."

Diller continued working well into her 80s. She told NPR that comedy keeps people going.

"Look at all the old comics who live to be 100," she said. "I can name two: George Burns, Bob Hope. Milton Berle [was] 96. What do you think keeps them alive? Laughter, comedy, the light touch, seeing the funny in [everything]."

The late Diller: comedian, pioneer and self-described good cook.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 06:07 pm
Thanks for the clip. I don't remember ever seeing her in color. I will never forget her laugh.
Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 06:29 pm

great 1/2 hour interview ... includes a bit about the origins of the laugh
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Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 06:58 pm
Found some fabulous quotes from one fabulous lady.

A selection of comic lines from Phyllis Diller, who died Monday at age 95:
- "I once wore a peekaboo blouse. People would peek and then they'd boo."
- "I never made 'Who's Who,' but I'm featured in 'What's That?'"
- "When I told Fang I was going to have my face lifted, he said, 'Who'd steal it?'"
- "You know you're old when your walker has an airbag."
- "I was the world's ugliest baby. When I was born, the doctor slapped everybody."
- "I became a stand-up comedienne because I had a sit-down husband."
- "My vanity table is a Black & Decker workbench."
- "The only thing domestic about me is I was born in this country."
- "They say housework can't kill you, but why take the chance?"
- "I have so many liver spots, I ought to come with a side of onions."
- "Think of me as a sex symbol for men who just don't give a damn."
- "The best contraceptive for old people is nudity."
- And actor Dylan McDermott shares this line via Twitter: "One time (Diller) came over with a 70-year-old guy. Told me she was 'robbing the cradle.'"
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Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 07:27 pm
One very funny lady with enough elegance and poise to have her own style. Gimmick? Of course! A class act. Always!
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Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 08:18 pm
My parents loved her. I was more of a Rita Rudner fan
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Reply Mon 20 Aug, 2012 09:20 pm
An article I liked about her, here:

The comments after the article are interesting too, at least so far.
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