Phyllis Diller, RIP

Categories: Comedy

The hairy, feathery lady comic was a riot, whether making fun of her hatchet face, her drooping boobies, or her sagging knees.

The reality is she was actually kind of attractive, but she did the shtick for laughs, and even turned into some kind of feminist in the process, especially when she dressed like a man and snuck into an all-male Friars Club event in 1983.

"How do you look so young?" I asked Phyllis at some bash or other way back when.

"Surgery!" she answered, point blank.

Whatever form Phyllis's face took throughout the years, I always enjoyed her rapier wit and self-mocking cackle.

I loved her in TV's The Pruitts of Southampton, adored her in bad movies like The Fat Spy and Boy Did I Get A Wrong Number, and wish to God I'd seen her in Hello, Dolly!

In honor of her legend, let me re-run my fave video of hers, which pairs her with her male equal.

As I wrote here in 2009:

"Two fluffy legends appear in the same room in this YouTube treasure: campy classical pianist Liberace and feathery standup comic/sitdown ivory tinkler Phyllis Diller, who is sort of his butch counterpart, with funkier hair and less jewelry.

"Imploding gender expectations on Lee's variety show, these two icons banter, they set up some bad jokes, they perform a ragtime duet at the keyboards, and they will turn you deaf, dumb, and gay!!!"

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The Pruitts of Southampton! My grandmother liked that show. I didn't know Phyllis Diller was in that.....Lots of deaths this week.


Little known Phyllis fact: She was part of the Beat scene in San Francisco in the 50s. Hung out with Ferlinghetti, Ginsburg, Kerouac, et al.


A very nice memory of Phyllis and Lee in their prime. Thank you MM. I was obsessed with her comedy albums growing up. Memorized them word for word as a gay teen.


 @James Yes! Me, too! I have a Verve album my friend David and I used to memorize parts of the routines. About her look: "There's no excuse....but a lot of reasons!" About her chest: "You can turn these knobs all night and the picture doesn't get any better." She was so funny--and her timing was incredible.


Saw her not too many years ago in a cameo in an off-Broadway thing on 42nd Street and it was all still there. The look, the timing, the incredible professionality.


Love you, Phyllis!


another legend gone. thanks for the laughs, phyllis. hope fang isn't taking it too hard!

bethesda topcommenter

I agree that she was actually kind of sexy. And a total riot. Miss you already, Phyll.


The Pruitts of Southampton?? I'm going to have to look that up.