Groundbreaking comedian Phyllis Diller is dead at 95!
BRENTWOOD, Kalifornia (PNN) - August 20, 2012 - Pioneering funny-woman Phyllis Diller, who was famed for her contagious cackle and for bravely paving the way for female comedians, has died in Los Angeles.
According to reports, the 95-year-old passed away under hospice care at home after a recent fall that saw her hurt her wrist and hip.
She was surrounded by her family at her Brentwood home.
Famed for her legendary cackle, Diller remained a force in the showbiz world even after she suffered a heart attack in 1999 and was later fitted with a pacemaker.
She began her career in 1952 and was catapulted to fame in TV specials alongside Bob Hope in the 1960s.
Diller paved the way for generations of female comedians and broke down the image of the Stepford-style American housewife.
Born Phyllis Ada Driver on July 17, 1917, in Lima, Ohio, she became an accomplished pianist before eloping with her first husband and moving to San Francisco.
There she worked as a copywriter and journalist by day, and refined her stand-up act every night in the city's comedy clubs.
She was the first of a new breed; deconstructing the suburban housewife and drawing in laughs on the subject of childbearing and her fictional husband, Fang.
Eccentric in her appearance, it was balanced by a self-deprecating tone that endeared her to all she met.
She got her first big break on Groucho Marx's game show, You Bet Your Life, after rolling off zippy one-liners like bullets from a semi-automatic.
That led to a two-year residence at the Purple Onion Comedy Club in San Francisco and more TV work on shows like I've Got A Secret, Hollywood Squares, and The Gong Show.
She also had her own cult programs, The Pruitts of Southampton and The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show.
Diller was also refreshingly honest about her plastic surgeries, pioneering a confessional approach widely copied ever since.
“It's a good thing that beauty is only skin deep, or I'd be rotten to the core,” Diller once said.
Still going strong in the 1990s, Diller could be seen in 7th Heaven and the CBS soap, The Bold And The Beautiful.
She also voiced the Queen in Disney's A Bug's Life.
Her memoir, Like A Lampshade In A Whorehouse, was released in 2004, after she left the popular soap opera.
This year she filmed what would be her swan song, returning as Gladys Pope for two episodes in March for The Bold and the Beautiful's 25th anniversary.
She had three children and after her marriage to entertainer Ward Donovan ended in divorce, found love with lawyer Rob Hastings until he passed away in 1996.