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.