Comedienne Phyllis Diller, who didn’t start her show biz career until she was in her mid-30s, passed away today at the age of 95. Her comic image, which included outrageous outfits, a shocking wig and an omnipresent cigarette holder, together with her self-deprecating humor, made her a hugely popular stand-up comic. But she was unable to translate that success to television. From 1966-1967 she starred in The Pruitts of Southampton on ABC, a sitcom about a wealthy family that suddenly finds itself not-so-wealthy, but it was cancelled after a single season (ABC attempted to revamp the series at mid-season, retitling it The Phyllis Diller Show). She followed that with The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show on NBC, an hour-long comedy/variety program that was on the air for just three months. But Diller didn’t need television to make her a success, although she would make dozens of guest spots and appearances over the years. She continued performing her stand-up routine until 2002 when she announced her retirement.
In 2000, Diller sat down for a three-hour interview with the Archive of American Television, which can be found here. And I’ve added a promotional spot for The Pruitts of Southampton to the Video Vault. Obituaries can be found at The New York Times, Variety and The Los Angeles Times.