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From the EW Archive: 'Phyllis Diller gets the last laugh,' May 2005

Image credit: NBC/Getty Images

Comedian Phyllis Diller died today in her Los Angeles home. EW’s Jessica Shaw profiled “the most celebrated female stand-up in history” in 2005 when the actress was still breaking ground at 87: She had penned a new memoir, Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse, and landed a role on a fall TV pilot, The Book of Daniel. Diller’s wit was as sharp as ever, despite her failing health.

Phyllis Diller isn’t feeling so hot right now. She’s flung herself back in a black stretch limo, forcing deep breaths in and out of her mouth, weakened from a recent bout with pneumonia. Just two hours ago, things were not looking so dire for the comedy pioneer, who just published her autobiography, Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse. Diller had joined her friends General Hospital‘s Anne Jeffreys and socialite Louise Danelian at the Colleagues Spring Luncheon, an annual charity fashion show in Beverly Hills, where the median age hovered around a very tight-skinned 80. The well-preserved posse gossiped about the diamond-dripping donors between sips of Perrier and discussed AARP-friendly topics like menopause, the perils of driving, and the difficulties of falling asleep in old age. Clad in a self-designed, Pepto-Bismol-colored, machine-washable, zigzag-hemmed dress, Diller, 87, eagerly flashed a toothy smile (all real!) to photographers who’d tired of snapping Betsy Bloomingdale and Mr. Blackwell.


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