Comedian Phyllis Diller Dead At 95
By Ivetta Babadjanian
Aug 20, 2012 - 1:49:19 PM
HOLLYWOOD—Comedian Phyllis Diller died on Monday, August 20, in her longtime Brentwood home at the age of 95. It was reported that she died in her sleep surrounded by family. The official cause of death has yet to be released.
Comedian Phyllis Diller
She had recently fallen and hurt her wrist and hip, and her health slowly deteriorated. Since the incident, she had been living in hospital care at her home. Diller also suffered from a heart attack in 1999, which lead to her being fitted with a pacemaker.
Diller's comedic career debuted at the Purple Onion in San Francisco in 1955, when she was already 37 years old and a mother of five. The first laugh always came as soon as she stepped on the stage. She donned a wig with outfits that included a fake jeweled cigarette holder, gloves and ankle boots. She was known for making fun of the way she looked as she described herself as "The Elizabeth Taylor of the Twilight Zone" and a woman who worked "as a lampshade in a whorehouse."
Diller often used her domestic life in her comedic material; she referred to a husband named Fang and joked that she fed her kids garbage soup. "Fang's idea of a seven-course dinner is a six-pack and a bologna sandwich. The last time I said, "Let's eat out," we ate in the garage," she'd say.
Diller had a number of television appearances. She hosted the 1964 TV talent show "Show Street," played a widow on the 1966-1967 comedy "The Pruitts of Southampton," which was later named "The Phyllis Diller Show," "Laugh-In," and starred in the 1968 comedy series "The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show."
Diller also appeared in films such as 1966's "Boy Did I Get A Wrong Number," 1968's "Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Saleslady" and 1969's "The Adding Machine." She did various voice-over work, including the Pixar film "A Bug's Life," "Hey Arnold" and "Family Guy."
Author Gerald Nachman wrote about the comedian in his book, "Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s."
"Diller wasn't the first woman stand-up comedian, but she was the first to make it respectable, to drag female comedy out of the gay bars, backrooms and low-rent resorts and go toe-to-toe with her male counterparts in prime clubs," wrote Nachman.
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