Comedienne Phyllis Diller dies at 95
Zany onstage character traded one-liners on the war between men and women
With her haystack hair and thrift-store wardrobe, Phyllis Diller was
perhaps America's best-loved comedienne. Known for her trademark cackle
and zingy one-liners, Diller frequently used women's limited role in
contemporary society as fodder for her humor - but was embraced by
mainstream America regardless. Diller has died at the age of 95.
In an age where many females are highly conscious of their looks, Phyllis Diller did everything she could to accentuate them - negatively. Opting for outrageous fright wigs, she deliberately shopped for stage shoes that made her legs look as skinny as possible.
Hailing from the Midwest, Diller was a housewife and mother of five children toiling in Alameda, California when she got wind of the flourishing comedy scene in nearby San Francisco. Diller was a staple of nightclubs and television from the 1950s until her retirement.
Diller's humor revolved around how she balanced housework with her career. "I bury a lot of my ironing in the back yard." A lot of her barbs were directed at her unseen husband named "Fang."
Prodded into show business by her first husband, Sherwood Diller, she gave up a successful career as an advertising and radio writer. Her husband managed her career until the couple's 25-year marriage fell apart in the 1960s. Shortly after her divorce she married entertainer Warde Donovan, but they separated within months.
Diller also appeared in movies, including "Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number" and "Eight on the Lam" with Bob Hope. In 1968, she was also the host of a short-lived variety series, "The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show."
But standup comedy was her first love, and when she broke into the business in 1956 it was a field she had largely to herself because female comics weren't widely accepted then.
In an age where many females are highly conscious of their looks, Diller did everything she could to accentuate them - negatively. Opting for outrageous fright wigs, she deliberately shopped for stage shoes that made her legs look as skinny as possible.
"The older I get, the funnier I get," she said in 1961. "Think what I'll save in not having my face lifted."
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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