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Biographies - Phyllis Diller
Phyllis Diller
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons: Phyllis Diller
Phyllis Diller
Born: July 17, 1917
Died: August 20, 2012
American comedian who was considered one of the pioneers of female stand-up comedy. She is remembered for her distinctive, cackling laugh, one of the best-recognized in comedy. In 1993 she was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.


Links: Phyllis Diller at the Internet Movie Database
  Diller's Entry in the St. Louis Walk of Fame
  Quizzes for Phyllis Diller
bill Phyllis Diller: Stand-Up Comedy Genius!Phyllis Diller: Stand-Up Comedy Genius!6/29,9:03PM

Long before Roseanne Barrs "domestic goddess," Phyllis Diller parlayed her life as a housewife into a profitable stand-up comedy career. The daughter of an insurance man, Phyllis Driver had hopes of becoming a concert pianist, and to that end attended Chicagos Sherwood Music Conservatory.

Her zany behavior while attending Northwestern University and her 1939 elopement with her first husband Sherwood Diller put a temporary end to her musical career. Several years and many children later, a bored Diller went to work for the advertising department of a California department store, then got a writing job at an Oakland radio station. A knack for making people laugh at church and club functions prompted Diller (with her husbands encouragement) to set her sights on a comedy career. She studied acting and scrutinized the techniques of her favorite male comedians, finally making her nightclub debut in 1955 at San Franciscos Purple Onion, a progressive nightclub which presaged the "comedy workshops" of today. Eighty-nine additional weeks at the Purple Onion enabled Diller to hone her skills to perfection; her first comedy record album appeared in 1959, with numerous TV and stage appearances quickly following suit.

Diller developed an outrageous comedy persona, complete with grotesque wigs, garish costumes and her trademarked cackling laugh. Though always a favorite with live audiences, Diller was never quite able to sustain her appeal on film: her 1966 TV series "The Pruitts of Southhampton" was unsuccessful, as was her only starring feature film, "Did You Hear the One About the Travelling Saleslady?" (1968). She fared somewhat better as a supporting actress in several Bob Hope comedy films of the late 1960s (Hope was a longtime Diller fan).

In the last two decades, Phyllis Diller has periodically altered her public personality, "improving" her plain but distinctive facial features with plastic surgery, concentrating more time on piano concerts and less on stand-up comedy and confining her TV appearances to Home Shopping programs and "psychic hotline" infotainment half-hours.

Perhaps Phyllis Dillers "funny hausfrau" throne has been usurped by younger talents, but one must not forget that Diller was the one who stuck her neck out first, blazing the trail for the many Roseannes and Brett Butlers who followed.

Written by Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide.

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