Phyllis Diller
American comedienne and actress
Phyllis Diller
Phyllis Diller is an American actress and comedian. She created a stage persona of a wild-haired, eccentrically dressed housewife who makes self-deprecating jokes about her age and appearance, her terrible cooking, and a husband named "Fang", while pretending to smoke from a long cigarette holder. Diller's signature is her unusual laugh.
Biography
Phyllis Diller's personal information overview.
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Photo Albums
Popular photos of Phyllis Diller
News
News abour Phyllis Diller from around the web
Phyllis Diller to Appear on Soap Opera
My Fox- Chicago - over 5 years
So what's a few years between old friends? <a class="fplink fp-222094" href="/phyllis+diller">Phyllis Diller</a>, 94, is returning to "The Bold and the Beautiful" for a two-episode run.
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My Fox- Chicago article
'The Bold And The Beautiful': Phyllis Diller Returning In March
The Huffington Post - USA - over 5 years
<a class="fplink fp-222094" href="/phyllis+diller">Phyllis Diller</a> is returning to TV, just in time to celebrate 'The Bold and the Beautiful's' 25th anniversary. According to TV Guide Magazine, the 94-year-old actress will reprise her infamous soap role for two days in March. Diller began playing zany makeup artist Gladys Pope in 1995 and her last appearance on the soap was back in 2004. Look for Diller's Gladys Pope to have a new job and play a big part in a romantic event. More...
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The Huffington Post - USA article
1986: One of the most remarkable sports years ever - CNN
Google News - over 5 years
My world was filled with people who were famous for reasons I did not particularly understand — Dick Cavett, Orson Welles, Phyllis Diller, Bob Gibson, Connie Francis, Joey Bishop. Being a child, in so many ways, is like wandering into a conversation
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Google News article
George Christy Talks About Malibu, Louise Danelian, Phyllis Diller, Fred Segal ... - The Beverly Hills Courier
Google News - over 5 years
Holding court on the patio: Our First Lady of Comedy, Phyllis Diller, with son Perry and artist wife Julia, and Phyllis&#39; best friend Bernie Shine. Perry manages Phyllis&#39; estate – they celebrated her 94th birthday several weeks ago during “a night of
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Google News article
Funny Because It's True: 'Have You Heard the One ...? The Phyllis Diller Gag File' - Express from The Washington Post
Google News - over 5 years
At 94, comedian Phyllis Diller has doled out a million jokes about her bad cooking and housekeeping over a six-decade career. Diller kept her jokes organized in an enormous cabinet she dubbed her &quot;gag file,&quot; which she donated to the National Museum of
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Google News article
Zsa Zsa Gabor Watches Her Anniversary Party From Bed - Hollywood Reporter
Google News - over 5 years
Quincy Jones, Phyllis Diller, Robert Blake and Frank Stallone were among the guests at the soiree. Zsa Zsa Gabor&#39;s ninth husband, Prince Frederic Prinz von Anhalt, threw her a 25th wedding anniversary party on Sunday that the actress watched from her ...&nbsp;-
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Google News article
One Funny Lady, or, How I Was Killed by Phyllis Diller - Smithsonian (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
But certainly one of my most memorable conversations was with the comedy star Phyllis Diller—memorable in large part because after getting off the phone with the comic, now in her 90s, my sides hurt from laughing. The National Museum of American
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Google News article
'Roseanne's Nuts': 'Grannies Night Out' Recap Episode 8 - Gather.com
Google News - over 5 years
Comediennes Sandra Bernhard and Phyllis Diller will be spending some time with Roseanne and Johnny. The episode opens with Johnny and Roseanne each on a motor bike breezing along the trail when Roseanne has a minor misunderstanding with another
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Google News article
THE MIRROR; Making Waves, With No Apology
NYTimes - over 5 years
HAVING curly hair makes me taller, more literary and better in bed. Perhaps not everyone agrees with me, like, say, my husband and the 500 men I dated before him who dumped me. But forget that. I know it's true. Or at least it's the story I tell myself every time I have a bout of Straight Hair Envy, when I ponder the possibilities of the Brazilian
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NYTimes article
National Museum of American History Showcases Life and Laughs of Phyllis Diller - Art Daily
Google News - over 5 years
The Phyllis Diller Gag File” brings to life one of America&#39;s most iconic and influential comediennes. At the center of the display is the gag file, a steel cabinet with 48 file-drawers containing more than 50000 jokes and gags typewritten on index
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Google News article
PASSAGES Raymond Hudd - Windy City Times
Google News - over 5 years
Over his 50-year career, he designed more than 500 hats for Phyllis Diller. In 2002, the Chicago History Museum held a retrospective of Hudd&#39;s career and work; the museum retains more than 100 of his creations. He is survived by one brother,
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Google News article
The gag file of comedian Phyllis Diller to be displayed at the Smithsonian - Washington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
But comedian Phyllis Diller was a stickler for keeping her jokes in order. And Diller thought we would all be interested in her orderliness. In 2003 she gave her gag file, a steel cabinet with 50000 jokes, to the Smithsonian
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Google News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Phyllis Diller
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2012
    Age 94
    In January 2012, she recorded a version of Charlie Chaplin's song Smile with Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale for the album Get Happy.
    More Details Hide Details Publishing her first best seller in 1966 and releasing more throughout the decade, Diller's books on domestic life featured her self-depreciating humor. The titles include Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints, Phyllis Diller's Marriage Manual, and The Complete Mother. In 1981 she published The Joys of Aging & How to Avoid Them. Her autobiography, Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse – My Life in Comedy, co-written with Richard Buskin, was published in 2006. In it Diller told of an unhappy childhood with undemonstrative, emotionally withholding parents, and an equally unhappy first marriage. From these beginnings, her performing style—telling rapid-fire jokes—emerged, which she compared to music: "One joke followed the other with a flow and a rhythm.... Everything had a natural feel to it." In the early 1990s Diller had many short, humorous pieces published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.
  • 2011
    Age 93
    In 2011, the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery at the National Museum of American History displayed Diller's 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.
    More Details Hide Details Features: Short Subjects:
    On January 4, 2011, Diller made one of her final public appearances on Anderson Cooper 360° as part of a panel of comedians.
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    In 2011, she appeared in an episode of her friend Roseanne Barr's reality show Roseanne's Nuts.
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  • 2007
    Age 89
    On July 11, 2007, USA Today reported that she had fractured her back and had to cancel an appearance on The Tonight Show, during which she had planned to celebrate her 90th birthday.
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  • 2005
    Age 87
    In her 2005 autobiography, she wrote that she had undergone "fifteen different procedures."
    More Details Hide Details Her numerous surgeries were the subject of a 20/20 segment February 12, 1993. As she passed her 80th birthday, Diller began to suffer from various ailments. In 1999 her heart stopped during a hospital stay. She was fitted with a pacemaker but had a bad drug reaction and became paralyzed. Through physical therapy she was able to walk again. Approaching the age of 90, Diller retired from stand-up comedy appearances.
    Although retired from the stand-up circuit, Diller never fully left the entertainment industry. In 2005, she was featured as one of many contemporary comics in The Aristocrats.
    More Details Hide Details 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. On January 24, 2007, Diller appeared on The Tonight Show and performed stand-up before chatting with Jay Leno. Leno has stated that Diller would infrequently call him to contribute jokes during his time as the host of The Tonight Show. The same year she had a cameo appearance portraying herself in an episode of Boston Legal.
  • 2004
    Age 86
    The 2004 documentary Goodnight, We Love You: The Life and Legend of Phyllis Diller, directed by Gregg Barson, was shot on the night of her last performance.
    More Details Hide Details It follows Diller to a press conference, backstage, and into her home, to cover the story of her career. Rip Taylor, Don Rickles, Roseanne Barr, Red Buttons, Jo Anne Worley and Lily Tomlin are featured, discussing Diller's comedy legacy.
  • 2002
    Age 84
    Citing advanced age and a lack of "lasting energy," Diller retired from stand-up in 2002.
    More Details Hide Details Her final performance was at the Suncoast that year in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the time she stated, "If you can't dance to comedy, forget it. It's music."
  • 1998
    Age 80
    In 1998, Diller provided the voice of the Queen in A Bug's Life.
    More Details Hide Details Among her other animated films are The Nutcracker Prince (1990, as Mousequeen), Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child (1990, as Mother Nature), and Casper's Scare School (2006, as Aunt Spitzy). She voiced characters in several television series, including Robot Chicken, Family Guy, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, Captain Planet, Cow and Chicken, Hey Arnold! as Arnold's grandpa's sister Mitzi, The Powerpuff Girls, Animaniacs, Jimmy Neutron as Jimmy's grandmother, The Wild Thornberrys, and King of the Hill. She also played Peter Griffin's mother, Thelma, on Family Guy in 2006.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1975
    Age 57
    Their marriage continued until she divorced Donovan in 1975.
    More Details Hide Details Robert P. Hastings was her partner, from 1985 until his death on May 23, 1996. In a 2000 interview, she called him the love of her life, saying he admired her for being an independent person. The character of "Fang," the husband that Diller frequently mentioned in her act, sprang from an ad-lib at a Purple Onion show. She kept him in the act, realizing "I was on to something because this idiot that I portray on stage has to have a husband, and he's got to be even more idiotic than I." She candidly discussed her plastic surgery, a series of procedures first undertaken when she was 55.
  • 1972
    Age 54
    Her successful career as a voice actor continued when Diller guested as herself in "A Good Medium is Rare," a 1972 episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.
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  • 1970
    Age 52
    After Diller's stint, Ethel Merman took over the role until the end of the series' run in December 1970.
    More Details Hide Details Diller continued working in television throughout the 70s, appearing as a judge on premiere and subsequent episodes of The Gong Show. She also guest-starred in Night Gallery, Love American Style, The Muppet Show and The Love Boat. Between 1999 and 2003 she played roles in 7th Heaven and The Drew Carey Show.
  • 1969
    Age 51
    Beginning December 26, 1969, she had a three-month run 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.
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  • 1968
    Age 50
    Diller hosted a variety show in 1968 titled The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show.
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  • FORTIES
  • 1967
    Age 49
    She received a Golden Globe nomination in 1967 for her role in Pruitts.
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    She became a semi-regular on The Hollywood Squares, starting in 1967, appearing in 28 episodes until 1980.
    More Details Hide Details Diller continued to work in film, making a cameo appearance as Texas Guinan, the wisecracking nightclub hostess in Splendor in the Grass. Throughout the 1960s, she appeared in more than a dozen, usually low-budget, films. She also began a career in voice work, providing the voice of the Monster's Mate in Mad Monster Party (1967). Diller also starred in the short-lived TV series The Pruitts of Southampton (1966–1967); later retitled The Phyllis Diller Show, a half-hour sitcom on ABC.
  • 1965
    Age 47
    Diller's second husband was actor Warde Donovan (born Warde Tatum), whom she married on October 7, 1965.
    More Details Hide Details She filed for divorce three months later, having found him to be bisexual and alcoholic, though they reconciled on the day before the divorce was to have become final.
  • 1964
    Age 46
    She also appeared on the daytime game show The Match Game in 1964 and 1965, adding comedic entertainment to the show.
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  • 1959
    Age 41
    Starting in 1959 and throughout the 1960s, she released multiple comedy albums, including the titles "Wet Toe in a Hot Socket!," "Are You Ready for Phyllis Diller?," and "The Beautiful Phyllis Diller."
    More Details Hide Details In the early 60s, Diller performed at the Bon Soir in Greenwich Village, where an up-and-coming Barbra Streisand was her opening act. She was offered film work and became famous after co-starring with her mentor Bob Hope, who described her as "a Warhol mobile of spare parts picked up along a freeway." They worked together in films such as Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! Eight on the Lam, and The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell, all critically panned, but Boy did well at the box office. Diller accompanied Hope to Vietnam in 1966 with his USO troupe during the height of the Vietnam War. She appeared regularly as a special guest on many television programs, including 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 three guesses. 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!".
  • THIRTIES
  • 1955
    Age 37
    With the encouragement of her husband, Diller made her debut as a stand-up comedian at age 37 in the basement of the San Francisco North Beach club, The Purple Onion, on March 7, 1955.
    More Details Hide Details Up until then, she had only tried out her jokes for fellow PTA moms at nearby Edison Elementary School. Her first professional show was a success and the two-week booking stretched out to 89 consecutive weeks. Diller had found her calling and eventual financial success while her husband's business career failed. She explained, "I became a stand-up comedienne because I had a sit-down husband." In a 1986 NPR interview, Diller said she had no idea what she was doing when she started playing clubs and in the beginning she never saw another woman on the comedy circuit. With no female role models in a male-dominated industry, she initially used props and drew from her educational and work background as a basis for satire, spoofing classical music concerts and advice columns. She wrote her own material and kept a file cabinet full of her gags, honing her nightclub act. Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, and Jonathan Winters were early influences, but Diller developed a singular comedic persona — a surreal version of femininity. This absurd caricature with garish baggy dresses and gigantic, clownish hair made fun of her lack of sex appeal while brandishing a cigarette holder (with a wooden cigarette because she didn't smoke), punctuating the humor with a hearty cackle to show she was in on the joke. At the time, Diller said, "They had no idea what I was. It was like—'Get a stick and kill it before it multiplies!'"
  • 1952
    Age 34
    After moving to Alameda, California, Diller began working in broadcasting in 1952 at KROW radio in Oakland, California.
    More Details Hide Details In November of that year, she filmed several fifteen-minute segments for the Bay Area television series Phyllis Dillis, the Homely Friendmaker—dressed in a housecoat to offer absurd "advice" to homemakers. Diller also worked as a copywriter at KSFO radio in San Francisco and a vocalist for a music-review TV show called Pop Club, hosted by Don Sherwood.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1939
    Age 21
    She met Sherwood Diller at Bluffton and they married in 1939.
    More Details Hide Details Diller didn't finish school and was primarily a housewife, taking care of their five children (a sixth child died in infancy).
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1917
    Born
    Diller was born Phyllis Ada Driver in Lima, Ohio on July 17, 1917, the only child of Perry Marcus Driver (1862 – 1948), an insurance agent, and Frances Ada (née Romshe; 1881 – 1949).
    More Details Hide Details She had German and Irish ancestry (the surname "Driver" had been changed from "Treiber" several generations earlier). She was raised Methodist. Her parents were older than most when she was born (55 and 38, respectively) and Diller attended several funerals while growing up. The exposure to death at a young age led her to an early appreciation for life and she later realized that her comedy was a form of therapy. She attended Lima's Central High School and discovered she had the gift of humor early on. Although she wasn't a class clown, calling herself a "quiet and dedicated" student, she enjoyed making people laugh once school was out. Diller studied piano for three years at the Sherwood Music Conservatory of Columbia College Chicago but decided against a music career and transferred to Bluffton College where she studied literature, history, psychology and philosophy.
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