August 21, 2012 - 10:31 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Phyllis Diller, the cackling comedian with electric-shock hair who built an influential career in film and nightclubs with stand-up routines that mocked irascible husbands, domestic drudgery and her extensive plastic surgery, died Aug 20 at her home in Brentwood, California, The Washington Post reports.
She was 95. Her manager, Milton Suchin, confirmed the death but said he did not know the cause.
Although there has been a long history of comic actresses, Ms. Diller was among the first to tackle the male preserve of stand-up comedy. She used her first husband for comedic fodder by disguising him as a fictitious character named “Fang.” Her jokes — roasts of Fang’s drinking habits, sexual shortcomings and professional failures — reversed traditional household roles. She once said, “His finest hour lasted a minute and a half.”
Pacing the stage, she spoke grumpily about her unhappy sex life (like bouncing on a trampoline, she said), her lackluster kitchen skills (though she boasted of her recipe for “garbage soup”) and her struggle to keep up with totems of sexual and domestic bliss (Marilyn Monroe and Donna Reed, respectively).
“Would you believe that I once entered a beauty contest?” she said. “I must have been out of my mind. I not only came in last, I got 361 get-well cards.”
Ms. Diller’s stage appearance was ghastly — and highly calculated. Operating under the belief that attractive women could not be taken seriously in comedy, she wore shapeless, short dresses, allowing her to poke fun at her flat chest (she claimed to be the only woman in America with two backs) and her toothpick “bird legs.”