Stand-up comedienne Phyllis Diller dead at 95

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Phyllis Diller from Mad Monster Party

Phyl­lis Diller from Mad Mon­ster Party

Phyl­lis Diller, a pio­neer of female stand-up com­edy, died Mon­day morn­ing at her Los Ange­les home sur­rounded by fam­ily, sources close to the come­di­enne said. She was 95.

She died peace­fully in her sleep and with a smile on her face,” long­time man­ager Mil­ton Suchin told the Asso­ci­ated Press.

Her health had been declin­ing since a recent fall which hurt her wrist and hip, sources told TMZ. She had been liv­ing in home hos­pice care.

She com­bined wild cos­tumes, untamed hair and a rau­cous laugh with self-deprecating mono­logues to cre­ate one of comedy’s most pop­u­lar characters.

Diller was famously car­i­ca­tured as The Monster’s Mate in the 1967 Rankin-Bass stop-motion movie Mad Mon­ster Party. She voiced the Queen in the 1997 Pixar film A Bug’s Life. Among her other car­toon movies were The Nut­cracker Prince (1990, as Mouse­queen), Hap­pily Ever After (1990, as Mother Nature) and Casper’s Scare School (2006, as Aunt Spitzy).

In 2008, she starred along­side Deb­bie Reynolds as the voice of Pelops (the Don­key) in Chi­nese stu­dio San­toon Pro­duc­tions’ ani­mated fea­ture film Light of Olympia.

As well, she voiced the Sugar Plum Fairy in the direct-to-video The Nut­ti­est Nut­cracker (1999).

She was heard as her­self in the 1970 TV spe­cial The Mad, Mad, Mad Come­di­ans and as the White Queen in the 1987 spe­cial Alice Through the Look­ing Glass.

Diller guested as her­self in “A Good Medium is Rare,” a 1972 episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

She voiced her­self in the Robot Chicken episodes “Oper­a­tion: Rich in Spirit” and “Easter Bas­ket,” Mrs. Claus in “Easter Bas­ket” and “Robot Chicken Christ­mas Spe­cial,” Hooker in “Easter Bas­ket,” and Mrs. Dorsey in “Oper­a­tion: Rich in Spirit.”

In Fam­ily Guy, she guested as Peter’s mother, Thelma Grif­fin, in the episodes “Mother Tucker” (2006), “Peter’s Two Dads” (2007) and “Padre de Familia” (2007). The Adven­tures of Jimmy Neu­tron: Boy Genius cast her as Grandma Neu­tron in 2002’s “Granny Baby” and 2004’s “Mater­notron Knows Best”/“Send In the Clones.”

Other voice roles were in Wait Till Your Father Gets Home (1973; as Detec­tive Phyl­lis Dex­ter in “The Lady Detec­tive”), Cap­tain Planet and the Plan­e­teers (1990; Dr. Jane Goodair in “Smog Hog”), Cow and Chicken (1997; Red’s Mom in “Pro­fes­sor Long­horn Steer”), Hey Arnold! (1996; Aunt Mitzi in “Grandpa’s Sis­ter”), The Pow­er­puff Girls (1998; Mask Scara in “A Made Up Story”), Ani­ma­ni­acs (1998; Suzie Squir­rel in “The Sun­shine Squir­rels”), The Wild Thorn­ber­rys (1999; Sam in “Two’s Com­pany”), and King of the Hill (1999; Lil­lian in “Escape From Party Island”).

In live action, she hosted “Spooks and Magic,” a 1972 episode of Disney’s The Mouse Fac­tory, and appeared in the 1989 TV spe­cial A Yabba-Dabba-Doo Cel­e­bra­tion!: 50 Years of Hanna-Barbera.

Diller was fit­ted with a pace­maker after suf­fer­ing a 1999 heart attack.

Phyl­lis Ada Dri­ver was born in Lima, Ohio on July 17, 1917. She began her career in 1952. A 1955 club book­ing sky­rock­eted her to suc­cess: sched­uled for two weeks, she stayed 89.

Diller made her tele­vi­sion debut in 1958 as a con­tes­tant on Grou­cho Marx’s game show You Bet Your Life. After mov­ing to Web­ster Groves, Mis­souri in 1961, Diller honed her act in St. Louis clubs such as Gaslight Square’s Crys­tal Palace.

She became famous with her 1960s TV spe­cials along­side Bob Hope. Later that decade, she starred in The Phyl­lis Diller Show, as well as a vari­ety show called The Beau­ti­ful Phyl­lis Diller Show. In addi­tion, she was also a reg­u­lar on Laugh In.

After well-publicized plas­tic surgery, Diller posed for Play­boy. How­ever, the pho­tos remained unpublished.

Diller told a filthy joke in the 2005 movie The Aris­to­crats.

She “broke the way for every woman come­dian,” Joan Rivers said dur­ing a recent appear­ance on Watch What Hap­pens Live.

In addi­tion to her tele­vi­sion, film and stage work, Diller made five records, wrote four best-selling books, and per­formed on piano with over 100 sym­phony orchestras.

Her two mar­riages — to Sher­wood Ander­son Diller from 1939 to 1965 and actor-singer Warde Dono­van from 1965 to 1975 — ended in divorce. She con­stantly men­tioned her fic­tional hus­band “Fang” in her stand-up act. Her part­ner, lawyer Rob Hast­ings, died in 1996.

Phyl­lis Din­ner was pre­de­ceased by two sons and a daugh­ter. She is sur­vived by daugh­ters Sally and Suzanne, four grand­chil­dren and a great-granddaughter.

Plans for ser­vices are pending.

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