You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

Remembering Phyllis Diller

Remembering Phyllis Diller

By now you’ve probably seen obituaries and tributes to comedienne Phyllis Diller. I want to share a personal memory that speaks to one facet of her personality you may not have read about: her kindness. Many years ago I appeared on a handful of TV game shows, just for a lark. When I taped a week’s worth of Password Plus, Phyllis was the other celebrity guest.

Naturally, we changed wardrobe for each day’s show, and by the second or third episode she noticed that I had a different lapel pin on each jacket I wore. She asked me about it and I explained that I collected them. For the next ten to fifteen years, every month or so I would receive an envelope in the mail with a pin from a city she had visited or an event in which she’d participated. She would always attach a card wishing me love. I still can’t get over this extraordinary gesture of thoughtfulness for someone she barely knew.

If you’ve never seen Gregg Barson’s 2004 documentary, Good Night, We Love You, I recommend it. It’s a love letter to Phyllis built around the filming of her final nightclub gig (in Laughlin, Nevada) before her retirement. It ought to be required viewing for anyone hoping to launch a career in show business, as it chronicles the performer’s professionalism, attention to detail, and upbeat outlook on life.

Here’s the kicker: she was still funny, right to the end. Not too many years ago, I saw her at a benefit where she received an award. She wasn’t supposed to perform, but she came prepared with material just the same—and every line she uttered got a laugh. A big laugh.

Phyllis Diller had a great run and quit when she wanted to. We should all be so lucky.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged , ,