New Film About Broadway Vet Phyllis Diller in the Works
According to Showbiz411's Roger Friedman, a new film about comedian and Broadway veteran Phyllis Diller is in the works from producers Shaun Redick and Ray Mansfield. Playwright Jonathan Tolin and Seth Bass will pen the script. A director for the project has not yet been chosen.
The legendary comedienne, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 95, was considered a trailblazer for female comics, including Joan Rivers. According to the report, a casting announcement has been issued for an actress to take on the lead role. The film will center on "her heyday years from the mid 1950s to the 1970s, when Diller was a staple on every single TV variety show, regular with Bob Hope and Ed Sullivan, with her wild wigs and caftans."
Diller first appeared as a stand-up at The Purple Onion on March 7, 1955 and remained there for 87 straight weeks. Diller appeared on "Del Courtney's Showcase" on KPIX television on November 3, 1956. Diller's fame was expanded when she co-starred with Bob Hope in 23 television specials and three films in the 1960s: Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!, Eight on the Lam, and The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell. Although only Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! performed well at the box office, Hope invited Diller to perform with him in Vietnam in 1966 with his USO troupe during the height of the Vietnam War.
Throughout the 1960s, she appeared regularly as a special guest on many television programs. For example, she appeared as one of the What's My Line? Mystery Guests. The blindfolded panel on that evening's broadcast included Sammy Davis, Jr., and they were able to discern Diller's identity in just three guesses. Also, Diller made regular cameo appearances making her trademark wisecracks on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Self-deprecating to a fault, a typical Diller joke had her running after a garbage truck pulling away from her curb. "Am I too late?" she'd yell. The driver's reply: "No, jump right in!"
Beginning December 26, 1969, she had a three-month run on Broadway in Hello, Dolly! (opposite Richard Deacon) as the second to last in a succession of replacements for Carol Channing in the title role, which included Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Betty Grable, and Pearl Bailey. After Diller's stint, Ethel Merman took over the role until the end of the show's run in December 1970.