Phyllis Diller: Beginning to end

The comedian Phyllis Diller died Tuesday at the age of 95. She was one of the iconic funny people from the 1950s to the new millennium, but if you asked most of today’s recent college graduates who she was, they wouldn’t have a clue.

Her wild hair, bizarre cackle and relentless delivery of back-to-back one liners were comic standards way back when. Her style matched that of the classic comedians like Bob Hope and Henny Youngman (two more legends kids have never heard of).

She paved the way for today’s female comedians, because Phyllis was the first woman to become a star in standup comedy. And no, comedy legends like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett don’t count, because they didn’t do standup. They did sketch comedy.

For older people, who actually remember her, here’s a clip of her with Groucho Marx when she was first starting out, a fledgling funny woman who’s hadn’t quite grown into the legendary comic figure:

No one knew her then. It’s fascinating to see her in the beginning. And now, here’s the star we remember:

And here she is, almost 50 years after “You Bet Your Life,” with one of her last  performances:

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