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Phyllis Diller

( b. Jul 17, 1917 Lima, Ohio, USA - d. Aug 20, 2012 Los Angeles, California, USA ) Female
Relations: Wife of Warde Donovan (divorced)

Phyllis Diller's early interests included classical music. After a short tenure at the Sherwood Conservatory of Music in Chicago, she attended Bluffton College in Bluffton, OH, near Lima. She met Sherwood Anderson Diller in her senior year in college. They were married in 1939. The couple moved to California, where they struggled financially, forcing Ms. Diller to take work in an advertising agency.

Ms. Diller entered the comedy world in the late '50s, when it was nearly an all-male dominion. She won audiences over with a machine-gun routine of one-liners that sent up her looks, her fictitious husband Fang, and her supposedly abysmal performance as a spouse and housewife. Her jokes were backed up by a jarring, Wicked-Witch-As-Fashion Victim appearance, a sight gag that preceded her opening line. Her fright wig of blonde hair and garish, metallic dresses made her among the most recognizable professionals in show business.

She made her professional debut in 1955 at The Purple Onion, a San Francisco nightclub that was famous for launching unorthodox entertainment careers. Soon, she was getting career-making boosts from Jack Paar, who had her on his "Tonight Show" several times, and comedian Bob Hope, who championed her.

In theatre, she took on the title role in the Broadway musical Hello, Dolly! for a few months in late 1969 and early 1970. She also performed in many stock and touring shows.


ProductionsDate of Productions
Hello, Dolly!
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Phyllis Diller
      Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi - Replacement (Dec 26, 1969 - ?)
Jan 16, 1964 - Dec 27, 1970
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