I just learned of this sad news a short time ago.
Phyllis Diller, the wild-haired, self-depreciating comedienne and actress who charmed audiences for 6 decades, passed away earlier today, a month after her 95th birthday. As of this writing, the cause of death has not yet been made public, and toxicology and autopsy results won't be available for at least a month.
Diller only pretended to be smoking, as her signature cigarette holder was merely a prop. In real life, she was a non-smoker. She transitioned into show business after leaving behind a career in the advertising business, where she was a copywriter. She went on USO tours and made movies & television specials with Bob Hope, whom she considered a mentor, and had tried her own primetime series in the late 60's. For ABC, she starred in The Pruitts of Southampton, which was later retitled, The Phyllis Diller Show in a last-ditch effort to save the show, which didn't work. The very next year, she returned, switching to variety with The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show, which also failed.
What some folks don't realize is that Diller was also a trained pianist, as will be ably demonstrated in this clip from Liberace's syndicated 1969 series, uploaded by showmanlee.
Rest in peace, Phyllis.