Phyllis Diller may not have been the first female stand-up comedian, but she was one of the most influential, opening up doors for future female comedians. Diller had a self-mocking and quick-witted nature to her comedy. In a time where homemakers took pride in their impeccably clean homes, neatly ironed shirts and a well-fed family, Diller painted herself as a domestic demon, stating that she buried her ironing in the backyard, fed the family garbage soup, and sometimes managed to “clean” a layer of grime from the home.
Diller moved into show business almost accidentally. She began writing for various columns and advertisements to help pay the bills, but little by little she began building a name for herself. Soon Diller was being asked to speak at a number of local events, and as her name and recognition increased, so did her acts. Soon she was being booked at nightclubs all over the valley and began to create the persona which would bring her to fame.
Diller also had a talent and passion for music. Between 1971-1981, she was featured as a piano soloist, performing with over 100 symphony orchestras across the country. She performed under the name Dame Illya Dillya and was known as an excellent pianist. Diller also took the lead role in “Hello, Dolly!” on Broadway from 1969-70. Over her career, she published a number of comedic books, including an autobiography she composed later in her life.
Ms. Diller was 95 years of age when she passed away on Monday. She is survived by her son, Perry; a daughter, Suzanne; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
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