Phyllis Driver

From Ohio History Central
Diller, Phyllis.jpg
Photo taken by Brian Hamilton on February 25, 2007, at Diller’s home in Brentwood, California.

Phyllis Diller is an American author, musician and entertainer.

Phyllis Driver was born on July 17, 1917, in Lima, Ohio. After completing high school, Driver enrolled at the Sherwood Music Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois. She remained at the conservatory for three years and transferred to Bluffton College, in Bluffton, Ohio. While at Bluffton, Driver met and married Sherwood Diller.

The couple later moved to San Francisco, California, where the Diller family grew to include five children. Beginning in 1954, she began to work at a local newspaper and at a radio station. Over the next year, Diller developed a comedy routine. In 1955, the Purple Onion nightclub in San Francisco hired her to perform for a two weeks period. She became an instant success, and the Purple Onion's management hired her for an additional eighty-seven weeks.

Following her work at the Purple Onion, Diller performed at various locations across the United States and appeared at Carnegie Hall in New York City. She also took roles in Broadway shows and starred in three separate television special programs. She acted in more than twenty movies, including several with Bob Hope. Beginning in 1972, Diller spent a decade performing as a piano soloist with symphony orchestras across the United States. She has also written a number of books.

Diller has received several awards for her career achievements. In 1990, the National Association of Women Business Owners named Diller the Celebrity Businesswoman of the Year, and in 1993, Diller received the Lifetime Humor Award from the National Humor Institute. In 1981, the AMC Cancer Research Center honored Phyllis Diller with its Humanitarian Award.

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