Pioneering comedienne Phyllis Diller dead at 95

Posted Monday, August 20, 2012 8:27:05 PM
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Pioneering comedienne Phyllis Diller dead at 95

Funnywoman Phyllis Diller died peacefully with "a smile on her face" Monday at the age of 95. In addition to opening the door for a generation of female comics, Diller starred in numerous films and television projects -- including a stop in daytime on The Bold and the Beautiful.

Legendary comedienne Phyllis Diller (Gladys Pope), who made guest appearances on The Bold and the Beautiful over the years, died "peacefully in her sleep" this morning. Diller was 95.

According to Diller's manager, Milt Suchin, Diller's son "found her with a smile on her face."

Diller was born Phyllis Ada Driver in Lima, Ohio, on July 17, 1917. Long before skyrocketing to fame in the 1960s as a groundbreaking comedienne, Diller worked at a Northern California newspaper as a copywriter. A mother of six, Diller got her big break in 1955 in a San Francisco nightclub as a fill-in for another act. Diller became a household name as a guest on Bob Hope's many television specials and on USO tours.

Diller often poked fun at herself, and took delight in ribbing her fictional husband, Fang.

In addition to countless appearances in film and primetime television, Diller appeared as Gladys on The Bold and the Beautiful. Diller's first appearance came in 1999, and the actress appeared sporadically through 2004 as storyline dictated. Diller appeared in two episodes of B&B earlier this year to help the CBS series celebrate its 25th anniversary.

"I was saddened to hear of the passing of Phyllis Diller who was a life-long friend of my mother, Lee Phillip Bell, and a long term character, Gladys Pope, on The Bold and the Beautiful," Bradley Bell, executive producer and head writer of The Bold and the Beautiful, said in a statement. "Her last television performance was on our show. Phyllis will be remembered by the laughter she brought to those who knew and loved her, including audiences around the world."

Diller also made an appearance in the mid-'80s on As the World Turns as Fairy Godmother to Marcy, played by Marisa Tomei.

Diller was a trailblazer for female comics, many of whom took to social media to express their sadness over Diller's death.

"The only tragedy is that Phyllis Diller was the last from an era that insisted a woman had to look funny in order to be funny," Joan Rivers remarked. "If she had started today, Phyllis could have stood there in Dior and Harry Winston and become the major star that she was. I adored her!"

"[The] last time I saw Ms. Diller she had a stroke," Roseanne Barr remarked. "When her assistant told her she could no longer drink gin, I immediately took her out [for] martinis."

"We lost a comedy legend today. Phyllis Diller was the queen of the one-liners. She was a pioneer," Ellen DeGeneres said on Twitter.

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