Diller got a writing job at an Oakland radio station. A knack for making people laugh at church and club functions prompted Diller (with her husband's encouragement) to set her sights on a comedy career. She studied acting and scrutinized the techniques of her favorite male comedians, finally making her nightclub debut in 1955 at San Francisco 's Purple Onion, a progressive nightclub which presaged the "comedy workshops" of today. And after that she showed up on several of Bob Hope's TV specials, and three of Hope's movies, most memorably as his maid in Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number (1966). She played a bankrupted millionaire in the late-'60s sit-com, The Pruitts of Southampton.
Diller developed an outrageous comedy persona, complete with grotesque wigs, garish costumes and her trademarked cackling laugh. Diller had a pacemaker installed in 1999. She has announced her retirement at least three times, and in 2002 she again announced she had done her last stand-up gig. She is still available for film work, though, and she has a recurring role on The Bold and the Beautiful. Phyllis Diller's "funny hausfrau" throne has been usurped by younger talents, but one must not forget that Diller was the one who stuck her neck out first, blazing the trail for the many Roseannes and Brett Butlers who followed. Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide.