Phyllis Diller, first female stand-up, dies, aged 95
She reportedly kept a plastic surgery diary, showing it to anyone who asked
Phyllis Diller, who was dubbed the first-ever female stand-up comedian, has died aged 95, her agent confirmed last night.
The performer, famed as much for her cackling laugh and wacky dress sense as for her comedy, was found at home in Brentwood, California.
The cause of her death has not been released but it is known that she suffered a near-fatal heart attack in 1999 and retired from showbusiness shortly afterwards.
Last night, chat show host Larry King tweeted: "I adored Phyllis Diller – she was a great guest, a terrific lady and certainly one of the funniest people ever." Fellow comedian Joan Rivers said: "I'm beyond saddened. We were friends. 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."
Diller was an advertising copywriter until, as she approached 40, her first husband, Sherwood Diller, persuaded her to get into stand-up at a time when funny women were very few and far between. Adopting the persona of an outrageously dressed reluctant housewife who poked fun at herself – "I once wore a peekaboo blouse. People would peek and then they'd boo" – she became a stalwart of nightclubs and television from the 1950s up until 2002, when she retired. In 1992 she received the American Comedy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Diller was one of the first celebrities to undergo plastic surgery and reportedly kept a plastic surgery diary, showing it to anyone who asked. "She was a true pioneer," her agent Fred Wostbrock said yesterday. "She paved the way for everybody. For Joan Rivers, Ellen DeGeneres, Chelsea Handler. Phyllis was the first of the first. The first female to play Vegas... she was on Broadway, she made movies. She did it all."
Her manager, Milton Suchin, told AP: "She died peacefully in her sleep with a smile on her face."
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
- 3 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...
£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...
£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...