DAILY | Phyllis Diller, 1917 – 2012

Phyillis Diller

The party crasher would become the life of the party

“Phyllis Diller, the housewife turned humorist who aimed some of her sharpest barbs at herself, punctuating her jokes with her trademark cackle, died Monday morning in Los Angeles at age 95,” reports the AP. “She was a staple of nightclubs and television from the 1950s—when female comics were rare indeed—until her retirement in 2002. Diller built her stand-up act around the persona of the corner-cutting housewife (‘I bury a lot of my ironing in the back yard’) with bizarre looks, a wardrobe to match (by ‘Omar of Omaha’) and a husband named ‘Fang.’ … Commenting in 1995 about the repainting of the Hollywood sign, she cracked, ‘It took 300 gallons, almost as much as I put on every morning.’ She said her home ‘used to be haunted, but the ghosts haven’t been back since the night I tried on all my wigs.'”

“Before Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr and Ellen DeGeneres, Phyllis Diller crashed the mostly male comedy circuit party to become an icon in the stand-up field,” writes Jim Cheng in USA Today. “Diller’s comedy career was timed almost as perfectly as one of her jokes. In the heyday of comedy and variety shows, Diller was a guest with all the big names, from Jack Benny and Dean Martin to Red Skelton and Ed Sullivan.”

Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan notes that “she also appeared in films like Splendor in the Grass, A Bug’s Life, and The Aristocrats and, in addition to starring in two TV shows of her own and several Bob Hope specials, she frequently made cameos in TV series such as Boston Legal, Robot Chicken, and Family Guy.”

In 2005, she wrote her autobiography titled Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse,” notes Brian Brooks at Movieline. “A screenplay based on her early years as a stand-up is in pre-production with Patricia Clarkson slated to play Diller, according to Wikipedia.”

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