Phyllis Diller, celebrated comedienne, passed away this morning at the age of 95. She will be missed terribly by the entertainment industry, by her fans, and of course by her friends and family. She was a pioneer for funny women everywhere, her jokes unabashedly sassy, feisty and brazen. She truly paved the way for other women entering the world of stand-up comedy, all while debunking the stereotype that women aren’t laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Diller is perhaps best known for her stand-up act, in which she glided about stage clad in eccentric garb, poking fun of her looks, her domestic life, and her fictitious husband, “Fang”. In her self-deprecating ways she managed to challenge conventions about marriage, family and the housewife, all through her whimsy and her ceaselessly rambunctious laugh.
Ms. Diller had a long, successful career thanks to her rebellious and wild persona that so many women could relate to and find humor in. Her fame catapulted when she worked alongside Bob Hope in multiple TV series and films. She was in more than two-dozen movies, hosted a talent show “Show Street”, and appeared as a staple guest star on various television broadcasts, including a performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. She covered the gamut of media outlets, and was luminescent in all of them.
We want to celebrate Ms. Diller’s brilliance and her wit. As Gerald Nachman writes in his book, Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, “Diller wasn’t the first woman stand-up comedian, but she was the first to make it respectable, to drag female comedy out of the gay bars, backrooms and low-rent resorts and go toe-to-toe with her male counterparts in prime clubs.”
She was so much more than a comedienne, a writer, and an actress. She was a rule-breaker, a vanguard, and a true class act.
Photo Credits: Celebrities Fans; Wikipedia; The Associated Press; The Post Chronicle