- CHARITY BENEFIT
I grew up watching the “Mad Monster Party” and “H.R. Puffinstuff,” so I feel the loss of childhood with the passing of Phyllis Diller. The comedienne died “peacefully in her sleep” at her Los Angeles home this morning, at 95.
Starting out as a stand-up comic, at age 37, Bob Hope took a liking for the self deprecating funny woman and featured her in his television specials, USO tours and three movies. All of sudden she became a pop icon making “Fang” a household word. She was actually beautiful but wore a blonde fright wig, held a long cigarette holder and talked with a voice and laughed like nails on a chalkboard. “Hollywood Squares” made her a household name.
Her agent Fred Wostbrock called her “the first lady of stand-up comedy. She paved the way for everybody. . . like Joan Rivers, Chelsea Handler, Roseanne Barr, Ellen Degeneres, and all the women stand-up comics. She was the first and the best.” Today those women posted tributes on Twitter.
Most people do not know she was a classical pianist, and a journalist. She worked on the California newspaper, the San Leandro News-Leader in the early 1950s.
Breaking boundaries she had her own variety show, “The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show” in 1968, and a run on Broadway in 1970 as Dolly Levi in “Hello Dolly!”
In 2002 she settled for the simple life. She is survived by her son, Perry, who “found her with a smile on her face.”