Phyllis Diller, a groundbreaking comedienne, passed away last Monday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 95. Diller paved the way for subsequent generations of comics through her unique brand of stand up. Known for her quips about domesticity, Diller’s screechy home-based comedy engendered and inspired women from Roseanne to Joan Rivers. Rivers eloquently tweeted about Diller’s loss: “The only tragedy is that she was the last from an era that insisted a woman had to look funny in order to be funny. If she had started today, Phyllis could have stood there in Dior and Harry Winston and become the major star that she was.”
Diller was well into her 30s when she took up comedy. A homemaker, she constantly mined her experiences for material, making jokes about her husband and children with gleeful abandon. Her carefully cultivated image was at odds with conventional beauty standards. Diller often teased her hair out to shocking stature, wore sack-like garish dresses that hid her slim figure and almost a clown’s mask of makeup. Diller leaves behind a son, Perry; a daughter, Suzanne Mills; four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. How better to pay homage to Phyl than to show some of her greatest work:
Thank you, Phyl, for inspiring me to follow my dreams and bitch about dirty dishes to my heart’s content. For showing me home life can be funny in it’s craziness. For helping me feel more secure about how I look and how I sound. R.I.P.