Recognized as a true pioneer for women in television and other forms of mass media, Phyllis Diller died today at the age of 95 at her Brentwood home in Los Angeles. According to Deadline, she had been in ill health since suffering a bad fall and was surrounded by her family when she passed away.
An inspiration to generations of female comedians, the "First Lady of Stand-up Comedy" was also an actress, artist, and author as she conquered the world of television, movies, books, radio, record albums, and Broadway. Known for her outlandish appearance and self-deprecating humor, Diller was a mother of six and a housewife before becoming an advertising copywriter, and ultimately got her first big break in show business at the age of 37 when she substituted for an absent stand-up comedian in San Francisco.
Throughout the 1960s and '70s, she was a popular guest on The Tonight Show, What's My Line?, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and The Flip Wilson Show, although her own television ventures—ABC's The Phyllis Diller Show and NBC's The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show—were not as successful. In addition to her live-action work in television and film, she also lent her unmistakable voice to animated projects such as The New Scooby Doo Movies, The Mad Mad Mad Comedians, Family Guy, and A Bug's Life. Most recently, she had a recurring role as sassy hairdresser Gladys on CBS soap opera The Bold And The Beautiful.
While I won't claim to be an expert on Phyllis Diller, she was unquestionably a trailblazer and influenced countless women in the world of comedy. What will you remember her for?