Comedy Pioneer Phyllis Diller, a TV Fixture for Decades, Dead at 95

Aug 20, 2012  •  Post A Comment

Comedy pioneer Phyllis Diller — a TV fixture who blazed a trail for today’s female comedians — has died, Reuters reports. The legendary comedian was 95.

The story reports: “Diller’s agent, Fred Wostbrock, said in a statement her death was ‘a great loss today. She was a true pioneer, she was the first lady of stand-up comedy — she paved the way for everybody. A true pioneer.’"

Her many trademarks included her wild hair and eccentric outfits, her long cigarette holder, a husband she called “Fang,” and jokes at her own expense focusing on her appearance, her age and her bad cooking.

TMZ reports that sources said Diller died this morning in her sleep at her home in Los Angeles, surrounded by family.

She had reportedly fallen recently, injuring her hip and wrist, but a rep for Diller said that fall had nothing to do with her death.

She wore a pacemaker after a heart attack in 1999, TMZ notes.

Her early career was marked by appearances in TV specials along with Bob Hope in the 1960s. In the same decade she had her own TV shows — “The Phyllis Diller Show” and “The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show” — and appeared regularly on “Laugh In.”

She once posed for Playboy, TMZ notes, but those photos were never published.

TMZ reports: “Diller remained spunky to the very end, famously appearing in the 2005 movie ‘The Aristocrats,’ telling an X-rated joke … better than comics half her age.

“Joan Rivers recently appeared on ‘Watch What Happens Live’ and said, Diller ‘broke the way for every woman comedian.’”

phyllis-diller.jpgPhyllis Diller

One Comment

  1. Phyllis was a great leader for female stand-ups, but don’t forget Moms Mabley. Phyllis would be the first to tell you that Moms was a major influence on her career. She was billed as “The Funniest Woman in the World” and deserved that billing during her time. In the early 1920’s she become one of the first entertainers to come out as a lesbian, at the age of 27. She is also credited as one of the First Triple X rated comedians and was a major influence on Richard Pryor.

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