Born Phyllis Ada Driver, Phyllis Diller was in show business for five decades. She was known for her outrageous wit — matched only by her hair and her laugh. Her loud-mouthed, rapid-fire (and notably clean) delivery picked on everything from her husband (Fang) to the agonies of being a poor, self-deprecating housewife. The bulk of her performing career was spent in dinner clubs around the world and on-stage (as a piano virtuoso) with over more than 100 orchestras. She appeared on countless television sitcoms and dramas over the years, including The Carol Burnett Show, The Love Boat, and 7th Heaven. Diller also appeared in scores of films, television specials, and Broadway productions. She co-starred in three of Bob Hope's movies, recorded five comedy albums, and published four books. She won a Lifetime Achievement Award in comedy from the American Comedy Awards in 1992 and a Lucy Award in 2000. She was an avid humanitarian.
Diller started her career when she was 37 years old. She was a contestant on the '50s television game show You Bet Your Life, hosted by Groucho Marx. After that, she was booked at the Purple Onion nightclub in San Francisco for two weeks — and extended her stay for 87 more. She went on tour from there.
Diller was educated at the Sherwood Music Conservatory in Chicago and at Bluffton College in Ohio. She had five children and was married and divorced twice. She lived in Los Angeles, where she died in her sleep at home on August 20, 2012; Phyllis Diller was 95 years old. ~ Sandy Lawson