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Phyllis Diller Biography and Filmography
Phyllis Diller
Birthday: July 17, 1917
Birth Place: Lima, Ohio, USA
Height: 0' 0"
Below is a complete filmography (list of movies he's appeared in)
for Phyllis Diller.
If you have any corrections or additions, please email us.
We'd also be interested in any trivia or other information you have.
Long before Roseanne Barr's "domestic goddess," Phyllis Diller parlayed her life as a housewife into a profitable stand-up comedy career. The daughter of an insurance man, Phyllis Driver had hopes of becoming a concert pianist, and to that end attended Chicago's Sherwood Music Conservatory. Her zany behavior while attending Northwestern University and her 1939 elopement with her first husband Sherwood Diller put a temporary end to her musical career. Several years and many children later, a bored Diller went to work for the advertising department of a California department store, then got a writing job at an Oakland radio station. A knack for making people laugh at church and club functions prompted Diller (with her husband's encouragement) to set her sights on a comedy career. She studied acting and scrutinized the techniques of her favorite male comedians, finally making her nightclub debut in 1955 at San Francisco's Purple Onion, a progressive nightclub which presaged the "comedy workshops" of today. Eighty-nine additional weeks at the Purple Onion enabled Diller to hone her skills to perfection; her first comedy record album appeared in 1959, with numerous TV and stage appearances quickly following suit. Diller developed an outrageous comedy persona, complete with grotesque wigs, garish costumes and her trademarked cackling laugh. Though always a favorite with live audiences, Diller was never quite able to sustain her appeal on film: her 1966 TV series The Pruitts of Southhampton was unsuccessful, as was her only starring feature film, Did You Hear the One About the Travelling Saleslady? (1968). She fared somewhat better as a supporting actress in several Bob Hope comedy films of the late 1960s (Hope was a longtime Diller fan). In the last two decades, Phyllis Diller has periodically altered her public personality, "improving" her plain but distinctive facial features with plastic surgery, concentrating more time on piano concerts and less on stand-up comedy and confining her TV appearances to Home Shopping programs and "psychic hotline" infotainment half-hours. Perhaps Phyllis Diller's "funny hausfrau" throne has been usurped by younger talents, but one must not forget that Diller was the one who stuck her neck out first, blazing the trail for the many Roseannes and Brett Butlers who followed.
The Last Guy on Earth (2006)
[ Elizabeth Hurley ][ Joan Cusack ][ Brooke Shields ][ Whoopie Goldberg ][ Talia Shire ]
Forget About It (2006)
[ Raquel Welch ][ Joanna Pacula ]
Unbeatable Harold (2005)
[ Taryn Manning ][ Lin Shaye ][ Amy Weber ][ Michelle Phillips ]
Episode #1.4433 (2004)
West from North Goes South (2004)
[ Tina Louise ][ Julie McCullough ]
Motocross Kids (2004)
[ Alexa Nikolas ]
Episode #1.4088 (2003)
Granny Baby/Time Is Money (2002)
Gabrielle Come Blow Your Horn (2002)
Hip! Edgy! Quirky! (2002)
[ Joan Rivers ]
The Last Place on Earth (2002)
[ Tisha Campbell ][ Alison Arngrim ]
Episode #1.3360 (2000)
Everything's Jake (2000)
[ Robin Givens ]
Nuttiest Nutcracker (1999)
[ Tress MacNeille ][ Debi Derryberry ]
The Debtors (1999)
[ Allison Janney ][ Catherine McCormack ][ Nikki Schieler ]
Episode #1.3111 (1999)
Nobody Knows... (1999)
The Ghost of Whyther Range (1998)
A Bug's Life (1998)
[ Julia Louise Dreyfus ][ Bonnie Hunt ][ Christina Milian ][ Madeline Kahn ][ Edie McClurg ]
Silenzio dei prosciutti, Il (1994)
[ Shelley Winters ][ Charlene Tilton ][ Joanna Pacula ][ Heather Elizabeth Parkhurst ]
Happily Ever After (1993)
[ Zsa Zsa Gabor ][ Tracey Ullman ][ Sally Kellerman ][ Irene Cara ][ Carol Channing ]
The Perfect Man (1993)
The Boneyard (1991)
The Nutcracker Prince (1990)
[ Megan Follows ]
Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog (1990)
[ Lisa Zane ][ Isabel Sanford ]
Doctor Hackenstein (1988)
Alice Through the Looking Glass (1987)
Jonathan Winters: On the Ledge (1987)
[ Lee Meriwether ]
Pink Motel (1982)
Audit Couple, The/Scoop, The/My Boyfriend's Back (1979)
A Pleasure Doing Business (1979)
[ Misty Rowe ]
Love and the Married Bachelor/Love and the Sweet Sixteen/Love and the Vacation/Love and the Well-Groomed Bride (1971)
Love and the Heist/Love and the Love Potion/Love and the Teddy Bear (1971)
The Mad, Mad, Mad Comedians (1970)
Love and the Modern Wife/Love and the Phonies/Love and the Single Couple (1969)
The Adding Machine (1969)
Mad Monster Party? (1969)
[ Gale Garnett ]
Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Saleslady? (1968)
The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell (1968)
[ Leslie Hope ][ Gina Lollobrigada ][ Wendy Wilcoxon ][ Mylene Demongeot ]
Silent Treatment (1968)
[ Sherry Jackson ]
Eight on the Lam (1967)
[ Leslie Hope ][ Jill St. John ][ Shirley Eaton ]
Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966)
[ Leslie Hope ][ Elke Sommer ]
The Fat Spy (1966)
[ Jayne Mansfield ][ Linda Harrison ]
Splendor in the Grass (1961)
[ Natalie Wood ]
  • Received her first national exposure as a contestant on Groucho Marx's '"You Bet Your Life" (1950)' .
  • In 1999 she suffered serious heart attack, although not expected to live, Diller recovered well enough to return to the stage for a couple of years.
  • Received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award in 1990.
  • She had a total of six children, though only three are still living as at July 2006, including youngest son Perry Diller who has appeared in at least two TV documentaries on his mother.
  • Has had numerous face lifts, a popular topic in her comedy routines.
  • Briefly served as honorary mayor in the affluent town of Brentwood, California.
  • Studied at Chicago's Sherwood Music Conservatory for three years before eloping with Sherwood Anderson Diller in 1939.
  • As of 2000, had appeared as a piano soloist with 100 symphony orchestras across the United States, including performances in Dallas, Denver, Annapolis, Houston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cincinnati.
  • Nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Shame for her recorded version of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction."
  • Earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1993.
  • She describes her comedy as "tragedy revisited."
  • Was a housewife in San Francisco suburb with five children and an under-employed husband who eventually convinced her to make money with the talent she regularly displayed in PTA skits.
  • Had 10-year affair with "the love of my life", lawyer Robert Hastings before his death on May 23, 1996.
  • Breakthrough came in March, 1955, age 37, with debut at San Francisco's Purple Onion club, and career was launched with subsequent appearance on Jack Paar's show. Later got major boost from Bob Hope, who saw Diller in a Washington, D.C. club. She went on to appear in 3 of Hope's movies and 23 of his TV specials.
  • Her second marriage, to actor Warde Donovan, actually lasted only nine weeks.
  • Announced her retirement from nightclub/stage tours at age 84 in May, 2002. Had pacemaker implanted at age 81. Lives in Brentwood section of Los Angeles, California.
  • Was a regular on the "Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts."
  • Attended a July 2003 Las Vegas function on invitation of Wayne Newton, to help celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Stardust Hotel and Casino.
  • Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. Pg. 137-139. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
  • Worked as a copywriter before becoming a comedian.
  • Retired from stand-up routine in 2002, due to ill health: She was 84 at the time! Continued to lend her voice to animated characters in movies.
  • Undergoing diagnostic tests in hospital after injuring her head and neck in a fall at her Brentwood mansion, including tests on her pacemaker. (April 2005)

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