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Comedian Phyllis Diller dies at 95

Aug. 20, 2012 at 4:09 PM   |   Comments

http://cdnph.upi.com/sv/em/upi/UPI-83501345493346/2012/1/1c55d98db8eb9f84f838511cdc74fd68/Comedian-Phyllis-Diller-dies-at-95.jpg
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Standup comedian Phyllis Diller died in Los Angeles Monday, her agent said. She was 95.

The comedian who created a stage persona of a wild-haired, eccentrically dressed housewife who makes self-deprecating jokes about her age and appearance, was recovering from a fall and had been sick for the last few months.

She died surrounded by her family, Fred Wostbrock told NBC News. He did not release the cause of her death.

"It is a great loss today," he told the network. "She was a true pioneer and the first lady of standup. She paved the way for Chelsea Handler, Roseanne Barr, Joan Rivers and Ellen DeGeneres. She was the best -- the first female standup to play Vegas. She was on Broadway, she made movies, she did it all."

She had been living in hospice care at her home, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles, reported. She suffered a nearly fatal heart attack in 1999 and was later fitted with a pacemaker.

Diller -- born Phyllis Ada Driver in Lima, Ohio, July 17, 1917 -- began her career doing standup in 1952. She rose to fame with TV specials alongside Bob Hope in the 1960s.

Besides making fun of her age and appearance, she also denigrated her terrible cooking and said horrible things about her husband named "Fang," while pretending to smoke from a long cigarette holder.

Diller's laugh was one of her signatures.

She appeared in 33 different TV programs and series, including the NBC sketch comedy series "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." She played Peter Griffin's mother, Thelma Griffin, on the "Family Guy" animated TV series in 2006.

Diller had a cameo appearance in an 2007 episode of ABC's "Boston Legal," where she appeared as herself, confronting William Shatner's character Denny Crane, alleging to have had a torrid love affair with him years earlier.

In 2007 she appeared on "The Tonight Show," performing standup and chatting with host Jay Leno. She appeared on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" Jan. 4, 2011, as part of a panel of comedians.

Diller also appeared as an actress and later voice over artist in 40 feature films, including "Splendor in the Grass" (1961), "The Sunshine Boys" (1975) and "A Bug's Life" (1998). She played Jimmy Neutron's mother in "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2002).

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