Phyllis Diller

Actress / Comedienne


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her three-hour-plus Archive interview, Phyllis Diller (1917-2012) speaks of her beginnings as a successful comic breaking out of her shell as a middle-aged housewife when she appeared for the first time on stage at San Francisco's "Purple Onion." She speaks of her first appearance in television on Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life.  She talks of her many appearances on television variety shows including numerous appearances on The Jack Paar Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.  She discusses her long association with Bob Hope in films and on television— making more appearances on his specials than anyone else. She talks about her television series The Pruitts of Southampton (1966-67), a sitcom; and The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show (1968), a variety-talk series, as well her roles on the comedy-anthology series Love American Style. She describes her appearance as a regular panelist on television's The Gong Show (1976-80) and her regular role from 1995-96 on the daytime serial The Bold and the Beautiful. She describes her work as a trend-setting female comic and details her successful formula for stand-up comedy. Fred Wostbrook conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on March 8, 2000.

"Little by little by little, I was getting to my persona. I will never forget, when I was working Boston, the guy that I worked for there said, 'you should do something about wardrobe.' To me, wardrobe was a piece of furniture you put clothes in. He meant I should think about dressing more theatrically."

Highlights
Phyllis Diller on her trademark laugh
01:09
Phyllis Diller on her costume; gloves, cigarette holder, boots
12:02
Phyllis Diller on her television debut on Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life
04:09
Phyllis Diller on the The Pruitts of Southampton, which later became The Phyllis Diller Show
05:18
Phyllis Diller on her advice to aspiring comics
02:16
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years in Lima, Ohio; on her education
On marrying, and moving to California, having a family, and starting in newspaper and radio copywriting

Chapter 2

On starting her career in standup comedy
On her TV debut on You Bet Your Life; on creating her stage persona; on Jack Paar's influence

Chapter 3

On crafting her onstage look and act
On performing on television; on the rise of her career and headlining in Las Vegas

Chapter 4

On her early television show; on working with Bob Hope
On working with iconic show hosts including Johnny Carson, Steve Allen, Mike Douglas, and Bob Hope
On starring in the sitcom The Pruitts of Southampton

Chapter 5

On The Pruitts of Southampton; on some of her guest roles
On The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show; on her stagework; on appearing on the Tiny Tim episode of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson; on plastic surgery

Chapter 6

On Jonathan Winters, Liberace, George Burns, and others she's worked with; on her concerts; on her appearance on Night Gallery
On The Gong Show; on The Friars Club; on appearances in the 1970s and 1980s

Chapter 7

On her advice to aspiring comics
On the importance of laughter; on her legacy
Shows

Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show, The

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Phyllis Diller on starring in the short-lived The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show
02:27

Bob Hope Specials

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Phyllis Diller on Bob Hope's comic sensibilities
02:18
Phyllis Diller on Bob Hope
03:28

Bold and the Beautiful, The

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Phyllis Diller on her recurring character "Gladys Pope" on The Bold and the Beautiful
00:51

Ed Sullivan Show, The aka Toast of the Town

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Phyllis Diller on appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show; on Ed Sullivan
02:38

Gong Show, The

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Phyllis Diller on being a celebrity judge on The Gong Show
01:36

Night Gallery

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Phyllis Diller on guest starring on the Night Gallery episode "Pamela's Voice" (airdate: January 13, 1971)
01:58

Pruitts of Southampton, The

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Phyllis Diller on her 1966 sitcom, The Pruitts of Southampton
05:34
Phyllis Diller on the The Pruitts of Southampton, which later became The Phyllis Diller Show
05:18

Tonight

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Phyllis Diller on Steve Allen
01:05

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Phyllis Diller on being a guest on the Tonight Show for the wedding of Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki (airdate: December 17,1969)
03:00

Tonight Starring Jack Paar aka The Jack Paar Show

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Phyllis Diller on her first appearance on The Tonight Show; on Jack Paar
06:18

Tony Orlando & Dawn

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Phyllis Diller on a funny incident that happened when she guest-starred on Tony Orlando and Dawn
02:00

You Bet Your Life

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Phyllis Diller on her television debut on Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life
04:09
Professions

Comedian

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Phyllis Diller on her trademark laugh
01:16
Phyllis Diller on her advice to aspiring comics
02:22
Genres

Late Night

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Phyllis Diller on appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show; on Ed Sullivan
02:38
People

Steve Allen

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Phyllis Diller on Steve Allen
01:05

Bob Hope

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Phyllis Diller on Bob Hope's comic sensibilities
02:18
Phyllis Diller on Bob Hope
03:28

Gypsy Rose Lee

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Phyllis Diller on Gypsy Rose Lee
00:54

Groucho Marx

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Phyllis Diller on her television debut on Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life
04:09

Jack Paar

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Phyllis Diller on her first appearance on The Tonight Show; on Jack Paar
06:18

Red Skelton

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Phyllis Diller on comedian Red Skelton

Ed Sullivan

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Phyllis Diller on appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show; on Ed Sullivan
02:38

Tiny Tim

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Phyllis Diller on being a guest on the Tonight Show for the wedding of Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki (airdate: December 17,1969)
03:00

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