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7 items from 2012

Comedy Icon Phyllis Diller-rip

20 August 2012 7:56 PM, PDT | | See recent news »

Superstar comedienne Phyllis Diller died today in Los Angeles, California. She was 95. Diller was not the first female stand-up comic ( ‘Moms’  Mabely had been performing since the 40′s ), but her outrageous fashions and irreverent sense of humor established her as a media comedy sensation in the 1960′s. Before Rosanne Barr, Diller joked  about the drudgery of housework ( and a clueless husband named ” Fang ” ) and her self-depreciating gags no doubt inspired Totie Fields and Joan Rivers. Ms. Diller ( born Phyllis Ada Driver ) was writing radio copy in the San Francisco area in the 50′s when she decided to enter the world of stand-up comedy. After success at clubs, she soon branched into television with an appearance on Groucho Marx’s quiz show ” You Bet Your Life “. After nightclubs she perhaps had her biggest successes in TV as a fixture of talk shows, variety shows and game shows, although she had little »

- Jim Batts

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Phyllis Diller Passes Away at Age 95

20 August 2012 1:48 PM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

Actress and comedienne Phyllis Diller, a groundbreaking performer who paved the way for female comedians everywhere, passed away in her sleep this morning, at her Los Angeles home. She was 95 years old at the time of her death. Here is what her agent Fred Wostbrock had to say about her iconic career.

"She was a true pioneer. She was the first lady of stand up comedy. She paved the way for everybody. And she conquered television, movies, Broadway, record albums, nightclubs, books, and radio. She did it all. A true pioneer."

The comedy legend was born Phyllis Ada Driver in Lima, Ohio in 1917. After a stint as an advertising copywriter, Phyllis Diller got her big break at the age of 37, when she first performed stand-up comedy at the San Francisco nightclub Purple Onion. Her act often revolved around her fictional husband named "Fang" and self-depricating humor about her looks. In the 1960s and 1970s, »

- MovieWeb

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Phyllis Diller: 1917-2012

20 August 2012 12:36 PM, PDT | IMDb News

Phyllis Diller, the wild-haired, eccentrically-dressed performer credited with opening the doors of stand-up comedy to women, passed away at her home in Los Angeles. She was 95 years old.

She was born Phyllis Ada Driver on July 17, 1917 in Lima, Ohio to Perry Marcus and Frances Ada (Romshe) Driver. After graduating from Central High School, she headed to Chicago's Sherwood Music Conservatory, where she continued to study piano, with dreams of one day becoming a concert pianist. From the Conservatory, she transferred to Bluffton College in Ohio, where she became the school's newspaper editor and oversaw the publication of humor pieces.

In November 1939, at the age of 22, she married Sherwood Anderson Diller and gave birth to a son, Peter, in 1940. She would have five more children: Sally (1944), a son who died two weeks after being born (1945), Suzanne (1946), Stephanie (1948), and Perry (1950). Perry would later manage his mother's business affairs. Contrary to popular belief, she is no relation to Susan Lucci.

During WWII, the fledgling Diller clan moved to Michigan, where she began to mine her home-making experiences for jokes. She also worked as an advertising copywriter at this time. After the war, the Dillers moved to San Francisco, where she found work as a secretary at the radio station KROW. Later that year, she was in front of the camera for the first time with a program titled "Phyllis Dillis, the Homely Friendmaker" for Bay Area Radio-Television. She continued working in Bay Area television, this time at KGO-TV, where she was invited to participate in the station's show "Belfast Pop Club", co-hosted by Willard Anderson and Don Sherwood.

Both Anderson and Sherwood encouraged her to pursue her stand-up comedy ambitions, and in 1955, she landed a two-week gig at the venerable San Francisco nightclub, The Purple Onion, where her self-deprecating wit and unique laugh kept her on the stage for the better part of two years. The buzz created by her act reached Hollywood, and she made her first rounds on talk and variety shows with the likes of Jack Benny and Red Skelton.

Her appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jack Parr was her breakthrough, and led to recurring gigs as a contestant on "You Bet Your Life" with host Groucho Marx, "What's My Line?", "I've Got a Secret", and "Hollywood Squares". She appeared on the silver screen as well, making her debut in William Inge's drama, Splendor in the Grass. In 1961, she made her stage debut in The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. Appearances in films with Bob Hope -- Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!, The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell, and Eight on the Lam -- began a lifelong bond between the two performers, who would co-star in numerous TV specials; in fact, Diller would be featured in every Bob Hope Christmas Special from 1965 through 1994. At the height of the Vietnam war in 1966, Diller joined Hope's USO troupe overseas.

As her star rose, husband Sherwood managed her career, though the relationship broke down and the couple divorced in 1965. By this point, however, Sherwood had become a staple of her act, as she made jokes about a husband named "Fang," while she smoked from a exaggerated cigarette holder -- which would become the comedienne's signature prop, paried with her increasingly outlandish wardrobe and hairstyles. Soon after her divorce, she married Ward Donovan, whom she met while appearing on stage in "Wonderful Town". Worth noting is the fact that Joan Rivers was one of her writers at this period in her career.

In the late 1960s, she starred in a pair of short-lived series, "The Pruitts of Southampton" and variety show "The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show", though she found her greatest success elsewhere, from her continued guest appearances on talk, variety, and game shows. Toward the end of the decade, she began a successful string of guest spots on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In". Harkening back to her film debut, she gained notices for her work in the drama The Adding Machine with Milo O'Shea.

For three months, at the start of the 1970s, she appeared on Broadway in "Hello, Dolly!", stepping in for Carol Channing. On TV, she frequented on Dean Martin's celebrity roast specials and "the Mike Douglas Show". She cut hit comedy records, published her first books, and continued working the stand-up circuit. A new source of laughs -- her own plastic surgery -- stood in humorous contrast with other Hollywood performers.

Her on-screen career began to wane in late in the decade and into the 1980s, with guest appearances on "The Love Boat", "Celebrity Hot Potato", and a revamped version of "Hollywood Squares".

In the 1990s, roles in B movies Dr. Hackenstein and Silence of the Hams were minor cultural blips, but in 1998 she regained the spotlight for her voice role as the Queen ant in the second Pixar movie, A Bug's Life. She also had a recurring role on "The Bold and the Beautiful". A year later, she suffered a heart attack and was fitted with a pacemaker.

By 2002 she mostly retired from the stage and screen, though she appeared in the 2005 documentary The Aristocrats, notable because Diller, who steered clear of graphic material, did not recite the content of the famous dirty joke. An autobiography, Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse, was published that same year; in 2006, a DVD version of the project was released, and she voiced several roles for "Robot Chicken" and, later, "Family Guy". She cameoed in 2007 on "Boston Legal" as a supposed lover of William Shatner's Denny Crane. A planned appearance later in the year for her 90th birthday on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" was canceled when she fractured her back.

Diller was a long-time member of the Society of Singers, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping singers in need. Two cities proclaimed "Phyllis Diller Day"s: Philadelphia (2001) and San Francisco (2006).

She is survived by daughters Sally and Suzanne and son Perry. »

- Arno Kazarian

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Phyllis Diller dies at 95

20 August 2012 12:25 PM, PDT | EW - Inside TV | See recent - Inside TV news »

Comedian, actress, artist, and author Phyllis Diller died Monday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 95.

“She was a true pioneer,” Diller’s longtime agent Fred Wostbrock told EW. “She was the first lady of stand up comedy. She paved the way for everybody. And she conquered television, movies, Broadway, record albums, nightclubs, books, and radio. She did it all. A true pioneer.”

The housewife-turned-advertising copywriter and mother of  six got her big showbiz break in 1955 at the age of 37 when the owner of San  Francisco’s now-defunct Purple Onion nightclub gave her a substitute stand-up  spot one night. »

- Jessica Shaw

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Phyllis Diller Dead: Legendary Comedian Dies At 95

20 August 2012 12:11 PM, PDT | Moviefone | See recent Moviefone news »

Legendary comedian and actress Phyllis Diller has passed away at the age of 95. Diller's career began in 1952 at Krow radio in Oakland. She was celebrated for her brand of kooky, odd-ball humor and, in the 1960s, began appearing in TV specials alongside Bob Hope. These appearances gave way to her very own program, "The Phyllis Diller Show," which aired from 1966-1967 and "The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show" in 1968. She also appeared in dozens of movies, including "Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number." In recent years, Diller did voice overs for such films as "A Bug's Life," "Family Guy" and made a raunchy cameo in 2005's "The Aristocrats." Diller reportedly died at her Los Angeles home, surrounded by family. The cause of her death has not been released. [via TMZ] »

- Jessie Heyman

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Legendary Comedienne Phyllis Diller Remembered

20 August 2012 7:45 AM, PDT | TooFab | See recent TooFab news »

Legendary comedian Phyllis Diller has passed away at age 95.The outspoken, outrageous Diller was known for her raunchy jokes and her laugh. She appeared in dozens of films and TV shows.Sources close to Diller tell TMZ the comedian died at her L.A. home, surrounded by family.Phyllis began her career all the way back in 1952 -- and rose to fame with her TV specials alongside Bob Hope in the 1960s.Later that decade, Phyllis starred in her own show called "The Phyllis Diller Show" ... as well as a variety show called "The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show."Fellow funnywoman Joan Rivers appeared on a recent episode of "Watch What Happens Live" praising Diller, saying she "broke the way for every woman comedian."Phyllis' celebrity friends and fans took to Twitter to express their condolences:Ellen DeGeneres ‏@TheEllenShowWe lost a comedy legend today. Phyllis Diller was the queen of the one-liners. »

- tooFab Staff

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Phyllis Diller Passes Away at 95

20 August 2012 | | See recent news »

Legendary comedian Phyllis Diller passed away this morning at her home in Los Angeles, TMZ reports. She was 95 years old and spent the last six decades working in Hollywood. One of the first female standup comedians, Diller's work has graced both the big and small screens. Her theatrical appearances include her debut in Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass , work opposite longtime friend and collaborator Bob Hope in Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number , as the voice of the ant Queen in Disney/Pixar's A Bug's Life and, recently, as herself in the documentary The Aristocrats . Diller's television work includes her own series, "The Pruitts of Southampton" and "The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show" as well as roles in series like "The Bold and the »

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