Born in July 1917, Phyllis Diller reached the age of 37 before ever beginning a career, having spent previous years as a housewife and mother of five children. She worked at San Francisco's KSFO radio station as a publicist and columnist, and was convinced by husband Sherwood to prepare a nightclub act. Her first appearance was at the Purple Onion on March 7, 1955, and after 89 weeks there becan a tour that included an appearance on the Jack Paar show. Five years later, she played Carnegie Hall. Diller has appeared in twenty-two films, her first having been Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass. Three of her movies were with her idol, Bob Hope, and she appeared on twenty-two of his TV specials. Despite all of this work in motion pictures, Diller continues to prefer live performances. Her stand-up comedy work tends to relate to parenting and living as a homemaker even though she has been in comedy now for more than forty-five years. She has also appeared on Broadway in Hello Dolly!, and onstage in San Francisco in Nunsense. Diller is also a remarkably talented pianist, having appeared with more than 100 symphony orchestras throughout North America. She has had four books published, including Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints and The Joys of Aging and How to Avoid Them. She is the recipient of a number of honors, including doctorates from several universities and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual Comedy Awards.
E2 Editor's note: Phyllis Diller died on August 20, 2012