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Phyllis Diller


Phyllis Diller

Phyllis Ada Driver was born in Lima, Ohio, on July 17, 1917. Hoping to become a concert pianist, she studied at the Sherwood Music Conservatory in Chicago for three years before getting married to Sherwood Anderson Diller, in 1939. Diller spent the next several years raising five children and working as a newspaper columnist and publicist. During this period she also became rather well known amongst her family and friends for her peculiar sense of humor and gained a small measure of notoriety doing stand-up comedy routines at local social functions.

In 1955 Diller's husband convinced her to try doing comedy as a profession. She made her debut in March, at San Francisco's Purple Onion club. She was originally signed for a two-week gig, but her act was so popular with the audience that she was held over for almost two years. Her career was launched with a subsequent appearance on Jack Paar's show, and got a major boost when Bob Hope saw her in a Washington, D.C., club. She eventually appeared in three of his movies and 23 of his TV specials. The first of her five major comedy albums was cut in 1959.

Although comedy remained Diller's primary occupation, she never gave up her dreams of being a concert pianist, and she appeared as a piano soloist with some 100 symphony orchestras across the United States.

Phyllis Diller retired from touring in 2002, but continued to do occasional film and television work until her death, which came on August 20, 2012.


Sherwood Anderson Diller, November 4, 1939-1965 (divorced); 5 children
Warde Donovan, October 7, 1965-1975 (divorced)


Splendor in the Grass (1961)
The Fat Spy
Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!
Eight on the Lam
Silent Treatment
The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell
Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Saleslady?
Mad Monster Party?
(1969) voice
The Adding Machine
The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians
(1970) TV voice
Swing Out, Sweet Land
(1970) TV
Plimpton! Did You Hear the One About?
(1971) TV
The Shape of Things
(1973) TV
A Pleasure Doing Business
Pink Motel
Alice Through the Looking Glass
(1987) TV voice
Jonathan Winters: On the Ledge
(1987) TV
Doctor Hackenstein
Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog
The Nutcracker Prince
(1990) voice
The Boneyard
The Perfect Man
Happily Ever After
(1993) voice
The Silence of the Hams
A Bug's Life
(1998) voice
The Debtors
The Nuttiest Nutcracker
(1999) voice
Everything's Jake
Kiss My Act (2001)
The Last Place on Earth
Hip! Edgy! Quirky!
Motocross Kids
West from North Goes South
The Aristocats (2005)
Unbeatable Harold
Forget About It
Casper's Scare School
(2006) voice
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Blaze of Glory

Television Appearances

The Pruitts of Southampton (series, 1966)
(1 episode, 1966)
Love, American Society
(4 episodes, 1969-1973)
Get Smart! (1 episode, 1969)
The Good Guys (1 episode, 1969)
Night Gallery (1 episode, 1971)
Wait Till Your Father Gets Home
(1 episode, 1973)
(1 episode, 1978)
The Love Boat
(2 episodes, 1979-1982)
Tales from the Darkside
(1 episode, 1995)
Night Heat
(1 episode, 1988)
(1 episode, 1990)
Captain Planet and the Planeteers
(1 episode, 1991)
Dream On
(1 episode, 1993)
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
(1 episode, 1994)
Boy Meets World
(1 episode, 1994)
(1 episode, 1994)
The Bold and the Beautiful
(17 episodes, 1996-2004)
Emily of New Moon (2 episodes, 1998-1999)
(1 episode, 1998)
7th Heaven
(3 episodes, 1999-2003)
King of the Hill
(1 episode, 1999)
The Wild Thornberrys
(1 episode, 1999)
Hey Arnold!
(1 episode, 1999)
Hollywood Off-Ramp
(1 episode, 2000)
(2 episodes, 2001-2002)
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
(2 episodes, 2002-2004)
Even Stevens
(1 episode, 2002)
The Drew Carey Show (1 episode, 2002)
Life with Bonnie
(1 episode, 2003)
The Powerpuff Girls
(1 episode, 2004)
Chutes and Letters
(1 episode, 2005)
Robot Chicken
(1 episode, 2005)
(1 episode, 2006)
Family Guy
(3 episodes, 2006-2007)

along with numerous talk, variety, and game show appearances, as well as many Bob Hope Specials

Honors and Awards

Golden Apple for Most Cooperative Actress, 1966
Women's International Center Living Legacy Award, 1990
Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy, American Comedy Awards, 1992
Television Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1993
Women in Film Lucy Award, 2000
San Diego Film Festival Governor's Award, 2004

Minutemen Award, U.S. Treasury Department
Distinguished Service Citation, Ladies' Auxiliary of the VFW
Humanitarian Award, AMC Cancer Research Center
USO Liberty Bell Award

Diller was also nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Shame for her version of Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction."


Phyllis Diller Tells All About Fang (1963)
Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints (1966)
Phyllis Diller's Marriage Manual (1967)
The Joys of Aging & How to Avoid Them (1981)
Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse
(2005) autobiography


Internet Movie DataBase

See Also

Bob Hope

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The Robinson Library >> Dramatic Arts >> United States: Biography

This page was last updated on 10/12/2018.