Phyllis Diller, First Lady of Stand-Up Comedy, Dead at 95
“She was a true pioneer,” Diller’s agent Fred Wostbrock stated. “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.”
A mother of six, Diller got her big break at the age of 37 when she filled in as a substitute one night at San Francisco's Purple Onion comedy club in 1955. From there she bolstered her fame and endeared audiences to her through her hilarious self-deprecation and charisma.
“When I went on, the room went totally quiet and I knew that I had this magnetic thing that you had to be born with,” she recalled of her first night on stage. “You can’t buy it or even learn it.”
Armed with her signature boisterous laugh, wild hair, and stories of her imaginary husband named Fang, Diller was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show, Laugh-in, and The Flip Wilson during the 1960s and 70s. She continued working in television and film well into her late 80s, collaborating with Drew Carey, Sarah Silverman, and Bob Saget, among others. In 2005, she published Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse, an autobiography that revealed the unlikely and traumatic road that led her to superstardom.
To honor this leading lady of comedy, we leave you with some of her memorable quotes:
"What I don't like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day."
"We spend the first twelve months of our children's lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up."
"My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor."
"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."
Watch Phyllis Diller share her spooky story in this 'Celebrity Ghost Stories' clip: