Phyllis Diller, the housewife turned humorist who aimed some of her sharpest barbs at herself, died yesterday in her Los Angeles home aged 95.
“She died peacefully in her sleep and with a smile on her face,” her longtime manager, Milton Suchin, told The Associated Press.
Diller, who suffered a near-fatal heart attack in 1999, was found by her son, Perry Diller. The cause of death has not been released.
She was a staple of nightclubs and television from the 1950s — when female comics were rare indeed — until her retirement in 2002.
Diller built her stand-up act around the persona of the corner-cutting housewife with bizarre looks, a wardrobe to match, and a husband named “Fang.”
She inspired a generation of female comics, including Whoopi Goldberg and Ellen DeGeneres who paid tribute yesterday on Twitter.
“We lost a comedy legend today,” DeGeneres wrote. “Phyllis Diller was the queen of the one-liners. She was a pioneer.”
“A true original has died,” Goldberg wrote of Diller. “There was NO One like her, no 1 looked like her sounded like her. A FUNNY FUNNY.”
Diller didn’t get into comedy until she was nearly 40, after her first husband, Sherwood Diller, prodded her to give up a successful career as an advertising and radio writer.
She also appeared in movies and on television but standup was her first love
She retired in 2002, saying advancing age was making it too difficult for her to spend several weeks a year on the road.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved