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, she was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show, The Flip Wilson Show, and Laugh-In, where her trademark cackle made her a household name. She also created the short-lived series The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show in 1968.
She continued to work in film and television throughout her lengthy career, appearing in Pixar's A Bug's Life and voicing guest roles on Family Guy, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and Robot Chicken. Her appearance in the 2005 documentary The Aristocrats proved that she still had her comedic chops, at the age of 88.