Legendary Comedian Phyllis Diller Passes Away

Kaitlyn Huscher, Staff Writer

Phyllis Diller, one of the most commemorated stand-up comics, passed away Monday, August 20, 2012 in her home in Los Angeles, California.  She was 95 years old, and according to Top News Today, died peacefully in her sleep with “a smile on her face,” says her son Perry.

Phyllis Diller was born July 17, 1917 in Lima, Ohio.  Her career as a stand-up comic started when she was 37.  Before this, she was a mother of five working at the radio station KSFO, San Francisco, and according to Los Angeles Times, she worked as a publicist, newspaper writer and a columnist.  Her husband suggested she prepare a night club act and perform at the Purple Onion in San Francisco in 1955.  This debut gave her stand-up career a jumpstart, as she polished her act and decided to go on tour, playing in the Blue Angel in New York and appearing on the Jack Paar Show.  After this her profession skyrocketed, appearing in Carnegie Hall, starring in three television series and specials, and making guest appearances in many top-rated shows in the 1990s.

 Although appearing on television multiple times, Diller had always shown a passion for “live” performances, especially when writing her own material for the acts.  She appeared internationally in concert halls and clubs spanning from Canada, Monte Carlo, Australia and more.  From CNN.com, one of her most adored traits, says Francesca Hilton, also a stand-up comic, was her laugh.  “She had the best laugh in the world,” Hilton once said. 

Her world-wide success as an actress and comic paved the way for many present-day stand-ups today, including Joan Rivers, Chelsea Handler, Ellen Degeneres, Roseanne Barr and more.  Upon hearing about her death, Joan Rivers wrote about Phyllis Diller, taken from CNN.com, “The only tragedy is that Phyllis Diller was the last from an era that insisted a woman had to look funny in order to be funny.  I adored her!” 

From CNN.com, Roseanne Barr said, “[Phyllis] was a revolutionary woman who inspired me.”  And indeed, Ms. Diller was a comedy legend, who took an original and new spin on stand-up comedy and acting.  She set the stage for many new performers today, and she will be greatly missed.   Ellen Degeneres tweeted, according to People Magazine, “We lost a comedy legend…  Phyllis Diller was the queen of the one-liners.  She was a pioneer.”