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"Whatever you may look like, marry a man your own

age - as your beauty fades, so will his eyesight."

~Phyllis Diller



Phyllis Diller






Phyllis Ada Diller (née Driver; July 17, 1917 – August 20, 2012) was an American stand-up comedian, actress, author, musician, and visual artist, best known for her eccentric stage persona, self-deprecating humor, wild hair and clothes, and exaggerated, cackling laugh.


Diller was one of the first female comics to become a household name in the U.S., credited as an influence by Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, and Ellen DeGeneres, among others.  She was one of the first celebrities to openly champion plastic surgery, for which she was recognized by the cosmetic surgery industry.


Diller contributed to more than 40 films, beginning with 1961's Splendor in the Gra ss. She appeared in many television series, featuring in numerous cameos as well as her own short-lived sitcom and variety show. Some of her credits include Night Gallery, The Muppet Show, The Love Boat, Cybill, and Boston Legal, plus 11 seasons of The Bold and the Beautiful. Her voice-acting roles included the monster's wife in Mad Monster Party, the Queen in A Bug's Life, Granny Neutron in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and Thelma Griffin in Family Guy.


Early life


Diller was born Phyllis Ada Driver in Lima, Ohio on July 17, 1917, the only child of Perry Marcus Driver, an insurance agent, and Frances Ada (née Romshe).  She had German and Irish ancestry (the surname "Driver" had been changed from "Treiber" several generations earlier). She was raised Methodist but later became an atheist. Her father and mother were older than most when she was born (55 and 36, respectively) and Diller attended several funerals while growing up. The exposure to death at a young age led her to an early appreciation for life and she later realized that her comedy was a of therapy.


She attended Lima's Central High School and discovered she had the gift of humor early on. Although she wasn't a cla ss clown, calling herself a "quiet and dedicated" student, she enjoyed making people laugh once school was out.  Diller studied piano for three years at the Sherwood Music Conservatory of Columbia College Chicago but decided against a music career and transferred to Bluffton College where she studied literature, history, psychology, and philosophy. She met Sherwood Diller at Bluffton and they married in 1939. Diller did not finish school and was primarily a homemaker, taking care of their five children (a sixth child died in infancy).


Illness and death


By 1997, as she pas sed her 80th birthday, Diller began to suffer from various ailments. In 1999, her heart stopped during a hospital stay. She was fitted with a pacemaker but had a bad drug reaction and became paralyzed. Through physical therapy, she was able to walk again. Approaching age 90, Diller retired from stand-up comedy appearances.


On July 11, 2007, USA Today reported that she had fractured her back and had to cancel an appearance on The Tonight Show, during which she had planned to celebrate her 90th birthday. On May 15, 2012, Diller conducted her final interview accepting the “Lifetime Achievement” award from her hometown of Lima, Ohio, as part of a panel of comedians.


Diller died at her home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles on the morning of August 20, 2012, at the age of 95. She was cremated, and her ashes were scattered at sea.


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