August 21, 2012

Phyllis Diller: Remembering The Comedy Legend

Comedy icon Phyllis Diller has passed away at the age of 95, and she leaves behind a body of work and witticisms that will never be forgotten.
Along with Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and Joan Rivers, Diller helped pave the way for women in comedy. Mining issues of domesticity, femininity and aging for her stand-up act, Diller developed a brutally honest, self-deprecating and audaciously witty voice that would influence generations of stand-up acts to come.
Her 2005 memoir Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse details her personal and comedic life, revealing how adept she was at spinning pain and disappointment into comedic gold.

Phyllis Diller [July 17, 1917 – August 20, 2012] was an American actress and comedian. She created a stage persona of a wild-haired, eccentrically dressed housewife who made self-deprecating jokes about her age and appearance, her terrible cooking, and a husband named "Fang", while pretending to smoke from a long cigarette holder. Diller's signature was her unusual laugh.

Diller was born Phyllis Ada Driver in Lima, Ohio, the daughter of Frances Ada [née Romshe; January 12, 1881 – January 26, 1949] and Perry Marcus Driver [June 13, 1862 – August 12, 1948], an insurance agent. She had German and Irish ancestry (the surname "Driver" had been changed from "Treiber" several generations earlier). Her mother was about twenty years younger than her father. Diller was raised a Methodist. Diller attended Lima's Central High School, then studied piano for three years at the Sherwood Music Conservatory of Columbia College Chicago before transferring to Bluffton College, where she met fellow "Lima-ite" and classmate Hugh Downs.

Diller was a housewife, mother, and advertising copywriter. During World War II, Diller lived in Ypsilanti, Michigan, while her husband worked at the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant. In the mid-1950s, she made appearances on The Jack Paar Show and was a contestant on Groucho Marx's quiz show You Bet Your Life.

Although she made her career in comedy, Diller had studied the piano for many years. She decided against a career in music after hearing her teachers and mentors play with much more ability than she thought that she would be able to achieve. She still played in her private life, however, and owned a custom-made harpsichord.

Diller died on August 20, 2012, at the age of 95. According to her manager, Milt Suchin, "her son Perry found her with a smile on her face ... she died peacefully in her sleep."

Here are some favorite Phyllis Diller quotes from her celebrated career. She will be missed.

Never go to sleep mad. Stay up and fight.

A bachelor is a guy who never made the same mistake once.

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.

Aim high, and you won't shoot your foot off.

Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your rest home.

Any time three New Yorkers get into a cab without an argument, a bank has just been robbed.

Best way to get rid of kitchen odors: Eat out.

Burt Reynolds once asked me out. I was in his room.

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.

His finest hour lasted a minute and a half.

Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance?

I admit, I have a tremendous sex drive. My boyfriend lives forty miles away.

I asked the waiter, 'Is this milk fresh?' He said, 'Lady, three hours ago it was grass.'

I buried a lot of my ironing in the back yard.

I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them.

I'm eighteen years behind in my ironing.

I've been asked to say a couple of words about my husband, Fang. How about short and cheap?

If it weren't for baseball, many kids wouldn't know what a millionaire looked like.

It's a good thing that beauty is only skin deep, or I'd be rotten to the core.

Most children threaten at times to run away from home. This is the only thing that keeps some parents going.

My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor.

My mother-in-law had a pain beneath her left breast. Turned out to be a trick knee.

My photographs don't do me justice - they just look like me.

My recipe for dealing with anger and frustration: set the kitchen timer for twenty minutes, cry, rant, and rave, and at the sound of the bell, simmer down and go about business as usual.

Old age is when the liver spots show through your gloves.

Our dog died from licking our wedding picture.

The only time I ever enjoyed ironing was the day I accidentally got gin in the steam iron.

The real reason your pro tells you to keep your head down is so you can't see him laughing at you.

The reason women don't play football is because 11 of them would never wear the same outfit in public.

There's a new medical crisis. Doctors are reporting that many men are having allergic reactions to latex condoms. They say they cause severe swelling. So what's the problem?

There's so little money in my bank account, my scenic checks show a ghetto.

Tranquilizers work only if you follow the advice on the bottle - keep away from children.

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.

What I don't like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.

Whatever you may look like, marry a man your own age - as your beauty fades, so will his eyesight.

You know you're old if they have discontinued your blood type.

You know you're old if your walker has an airbag.

Phyllis Diller Filmography


Splendor in the Grass (1961)
The Fat Spy (1966)
Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966)
Eight on the Lam (1967)
Silent Treatment (1968) (unfinished)
The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (1968)
Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Saleslady? (1968)
Mad Monster Party (1967) (voice)
The Adding Machine (1969)
The Sunshine Boys (1975)
A Pleasure Doing Business (1979)
Pink Motel (1982)
Doctor Hackenstein (1988)
Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog (1990)
The Nutcracker Prince (1990) (voice)
The Boneyard (1991)
Wisecracks (1992) (documentary)
The Perfect Man (1993)
Happily Ever After (1993) (voice)
The Silence of the Hams (1994)
A Bug's Life (1998) (voice)
The Debtors (1999)
The Nuttiest Nutcracker (1999) (voice) (direct-to-video)
Everything's Jake (2000)
The Last Place on Earth (2002)
Hip! Edgy! Quirky! (2002)
Bitter Jester (2003) (documentary)
Motocross Kids (2004)
West from North Goes South (2004)
Goodnight, We Love You (2004) (documentary)
The Aristocrats (2005) (documentary)
Madman Muntz: American Maverick (2005) (documentary)
Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006) (documentary)
Unbeatable Harold (2006)
Forget About It (2006)
Celebrity Art Show (2008) (documentary)
Blaze of Glory (2008) (voice)
You Know the Face (2009) (documentary)
Looking for Lenny (2009) (documentary)
How to Live Forever (2009) (documentary)
I Am Comic (2010) (documentary)
Short Subjects:
Rowan & Martin at the Movies (1968)
The Lion Roars Again (1975)

Television work

The Phyllis Diller Special (1963)
The Pruitts of Southampton (1966–1967)
An Evening with Phyllis Diller (1966)
Batman (1966) Cameo as scrub woman
The Phyllis Diller Special (1968)
The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show (1968) (canceled after 13 episodes)
The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians (1970) (voice)
Night Gallery (1970) Episode "Pamela´s Voice"
Mooch Goes to Hollywood (1971)
Love American Style "Love and the Heist" (1971)
The New Scooby Doo Movies episode 6: "A Good Medium is Rare" (1972) (voice)
Phyllis Diller's 102nd Birthday Party (1974)
The Gong Show (1976–1980) (recurring panelist throughout run)
The Muppet Show (1977)[35]
On Location: Phyllis Diller (1977)
Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell sisters NBC (1981 in television)
Whatever Became Of... (1981) (unsold pilot)
Jonathan Winters: On the Ledge (1987)
Alice Through the Looking Glass (1987 film) (1987) (voice)
Top Tomata! (1989) - comedy special featuring Elayne Boosler (cameo)
227 (1990) (One episode)
Cybill "Romancing the Crone" (1996) (self)
Hey Arnold! (1999) (Mitzi)
The Bold and the Beautiful (recurring cast member as Gladys from 1995–2004)
Kiss My Act (2001)
Titus (2001) (Grandma Titus)
Even Stevens (2002) (Coach Korns)
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (Recurring voice of Granny Neutron)
Casper's Scare School (2006) (voice)
Family Guy (Recurring voice of Thelma Griffin)
Robot Chicken (2005) Phyllis Diller Spray N' Play / Mrs. Claus (voice)
Boston Legal (2007) (One of Denny's past lovers)
The Rosie O'Donnell Show (2011)
Roseanne's Nuts (2011) (Herself)
Celebrity Ghost Stories (2011) as herself
The Powerpuff Girls (2004) as Mask Scara
The Bold and the Beautiful (2012) 2 episodes as Gladys

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