Phyllis Diller (1917 — 2012): They Don’t Make em Like that Anymore

English: Phyllis Diller portrait
English: Phyllis Diller portrait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This incredibly funny woman started life as a housewife who dreamed of doing comedy. I saw her on a repeat of Groucho Marx‘s You Bet Your Life show from the 1950’s. As a contestant. Groucho interviewed her and she told of her dream. They used to show that program a lot.

Phyllis Diller worked a lot with comedian Bob Hope appearing in twenty seven of his television specials and three of his films. She also toured with Hope as part of the USO shows that  were put on for American GI‘s who were serving during the war.

Diller’s whole routine revolved around her crazy hair, her poor housekeeping and cooking and of course her husband Fang. She also had a huge raucous laugh that became her ‘trademark.’ She also had a long career as an actress. If you look her up on IMDb they list 77 different acting credits. She also had her own television program. Twice

She used to do a lot of cameos for other programs and in films. She very publicly had a face lift and several other plastic surgery operations performed on her when she reached 55. This was worked into her act as well. Her biggest laughs were always at her own expense. One joke she would repeat was her annoyance at the cleanliness of a neighbours home. Phyllis would snort derisively and say”She says you can eat off her floor. Oh Yeah? Well you can eat off my floor. Just look, over there’s the mustard, ketchup over there…” She would then finish with that loud laugh.

She must have loved what she was doing. She last worked in 2009 in a video short titled Family Dinner, if you can do the maths, that was three years ago and she was 92. Family and friends say that Phyllis passed peacefully in bed. She was smiling.

She has been described as a pioneer. Paving the way for so many other female comediennes Roseanne Barr, Joan Rivers and Ellen DeGeneres. She was the first female to do stand up comedy in Las Vegas.

This was a woman who could just walk on stage and immediately put the audience in stitches. She was a legend.

So long Phyllis. In a lot of ways you were the party. I hope you’re making the ‘Big Guy’ laugh right now.

Oh and say hello to Fang for me.

English: Phyllis Diller. Picture taken at the ...
English: Phyllis Diller. Picture taken at the her home in Brentwood, California, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

6 thoughts on “Phyllis Diller (1917 — 2012): They Don’t Make em Like that Anymore”

  1. I grew up loving Phyllis Diller. Once in Los Angeles when I was a kid my cousins and I thought we saw her sitting in a car in a parking lot. We knew at once it was her from her wild hair. The setting sun was in our eyes as we ran up from behind the car to ask for her autograph. It turned out to be a very large blonde fluffy dog sitting in the driver’s seat.
    When ever I saw that Phyllis was going to be on a show I made sure to watch it. She gave me so much laughter. My favorite routine of hers was the one about taking a drivers test in San Francisco. The City was never the same after that driver’s test and we too were changed by her wonderful comedic gifts.
    I shall miss here dearly.


    1. I have to tell you, I just laughed until I had tears in my eyes at the shaggy dog story…Oh my that is funny! I absolutely adored Ms Diller, I saw her in all three films she made with Bob Hope and I never missed a tv special that she was in. The last thing I saw her in was a horror film The Boneyard. She still had the chops in 1991 and looking at IMDb she had for a lot longer. They really don’t make em like that anymore.


      1. I am on vacation so I didn’t know she had passed until I read your post. I am watching her on You Tube right now.
        Not sad, but greateful that she was a gift to us.


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