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Comedienne Phyllis Diller Dies

Actress and comedienne Phyllis Diller arrives for a gala dinner at the Museum of Radio and Television in Beverly Hills October 19. (file photo)
Phyllis Diller, one of America's first female stand-up comedy stars, has died at age 95.

Diller began her show-business career in the 1950s when women stand-up comics were rare. She created an indelible persona with her distinctive laugh, a cigarette holder, teased hair, outlandish costumes and a fictional husband she called "Fang."

Her first national exposure came as a contestant on a television game show hosted by legendary comedian Groucho Marx. Diller went on to a lengthy career performing in nightclubs and on television, paving the way for female comedians such as Joan Rivers and Ellen DeGeneris.

After retiring from stand-up in 2002, Diller continued to take occasional small parts in movies and TV shows, and she pursued painting as a serious hobby.