Phyllis Diller, the first woman to break into the boys club of stand-up comedy, has died at the age of 95. Diller paved the way for the female comics who came after her, and left some big spike heels for them to fill.
Diller began her career at the late age of 37, after marrying and having children, but her timing couldn’t have been better. This was the 1950s, when Lucille Ball had already proven that women could get laughs and there were plenty of TV variety shows, where an aspiring comic could be seen by an audience of millions.
Diller adopted her comic persona early, with her crazy wigs, high-heeled boots, long cigarette holder and cackling laugh. Unlike some comedians who are known for their biting attacks on others, Diller saved her sharpest jabs for herself and her own appearance.
Diller’s routines often mentioned her long-suffering hubby “Fang,” as well as her mother-in-law “Moby Dick.” She blazed a trail for future female comics who incorporated domestic issues into their routines.
Over her long career, Diller appeared in nightclubs, on numerous TV shows and in Las Vegas. In 2002, Diller retired from touring due to ill health, but continued to do voice-overs for films and TV. She also penned a 2005 memoir entitled “Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse.”
May she rest in peace…