Comedy Legend Phyllis Diller Dead At 95

Phyllis Diller, who paved the way for future female stand-up stars like Joan Rivers and Sarah Silverman, died at her home of unspecified causes. She was 95.

Yahoo! News reports:

The comedienne, known for her wild hair and distinctive laugh, often joked about her terrible cooking and her husband “Fang,” and poked fun at her less-than-glamorous looks: She started out in 1952 filming a local TV special entitled “Phyllis Diller: The Homely Friendmaker.” She rose to fame on TV with a series of TV specials alongside Bob Hope in the 1960s and later starred in several TV shows based around her act (“The Phyllis Diller Show,” “The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show”); she also frequently appeared on the seminal ’60s variety show “Laugh-In.”

In recent years, Diller reveled in her role as an elder statesman of comedy, outdoing much younger comedians in the 2005 documentary “The Aristocrats” and even performing a routine on “The Tonight Show” in 2007, at the tender age of 89. She also guest starred as one of William Shatner’s sexual conquests (!) in a 2007 episode of “Boston Legal.”

Like any strong-willed entertainer who challenged the status quo regarding gender and sexuality, Diller had a sizable queer following. In her 2005 memoir, Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy, she openly acknowledged her gay fans: “Gay men have the most wonderful sense of humor. And they are willing to laugh. They appeal to me and I appeal to them.”

Rest in peace, Phyllis.

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  • tom

    A great lady who never failed to make me laugh throughout my childhood and even as an adult. Her interactions with johnny carson on the tonight show were priceless. Kids you tube it , she was and always will be a comedy legend. RIP funny lady, and Thank You

  • Chuck

    I was the director of an art gallery in Palm Beach, Fl. and Phyllis was one of the celebrity artist’s whom
    we represented. Phyllis was very talented in so many directions, art, entertainment, concert pianist and was blessed with a great sense of humor. Whenever the gallery had a celebrity opening party it became one of the most desired invitations in Palm Beach. I would like to share a great memory. Phyllis was sitting at a desk talking with many of the clients of the galley when a woman approached her with one of Phyllis’s comedy
    albums asking Phyllis to autograph the album for her. Without missing a beat Phyllis replied: “My dear this is an art show, I’m not promoting one of my albums. I will be happy to autograph one of my paintings but I’m not here to autograph albums or books”!………………PRICELESS….. You will be missed Phyllis.

  • Hephaestion

    When I was a kid in the 60’s I adored her. She was on TV all the time then and everyone loved her. I think she pushed the envelope for women, helping open minds when all women acted and dressed the same. She was such a breath of fresh air back then!

  • NoHoInTO

    Phyllis Diller will be greatly missed by myself, my family and friends. She knew how to make anyone laugh at any age. As well, she was an amazing concert pianist and artist. I hope her legend will live on as THE grand dame of comedy. I loved you Phyllis, RIP. She’ll make the angels pee their pants, Heaven’s in for a blast!

  • ned

    She was great, but I must share a not-so-fond memory of Phyllis Diller. Back in the early 80’s, as a young lad, I went with a group of gay friends to a comedy club appearance of Ms. Diller. Sadly, her live routine was chock full of anti-gay “zingers” directed at “fags”, etc. It was a bit shocking and disappointing to hear at the time. RIP.

  • Bob

    This will probably be hard for the younger generation to believe, but Phyllis Diller came from an era when stand up comics didn’t have to be foul-mouthed, crude, rude, nasty, and reek of attitude in order to get laughs. Phyllis was just funny and most of her humor was self-deprecating. It is almost a crime that some people are comparing this comedy legend with the angry, no-talent likes of Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman or Whatsername Griffin.

  • northwesterndick

    I remember Phyllis well – she was an absolute riot in the late 60s and 70s. May she rest in peace. God knows she made many of us laugh until we almost cried……Bob is right – she always poked fun at herself and her “husband” Fang – she used to smoke on the air with a cigarette holder in her hand. Anyone else remember that? Her laugh was somewhat cackely and her hair always somewhat of a rat’s nest…..She was GOOD humor…..

  • mada

    I’m of the younger generation and absolutely loved her humor my whole life. When I announced the news, no one around me remotely knew who she was, sadly. I’m used to this though, but I can’t get too hung up about it. She was 95 and led a very full life. I wish it didn’t take a death for some youngsters to look back on her work and appreciate her. I appreciated her while she was around. I just wish we could trade in “new” talentless schmucks for all the visionaries lost in the last decade.

  • hf2hvit

    @Bob: ANGRY about that???

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