Joan Rivers remembers Phyllis Diller

(CBS News)

In the weeks before her death, comedienne Phyllis Diller was "beyond lucid" according to Joan Rivers, her longtime friend and protege.

Diller died in Los Angeles Tuesday. She was 95 years old.

Comedian Phyllis Diller dies at 95 in Los Angeles

Tuesday on "CBS This Morning" Rivers called Diller was a trailblazer for women in comedy, and the first woman that "just stood up." "(Diller) didn't sing, didn't dance, just went out and competed with the men on their turf and did it brilliantly and was a great, a great gag writer, you know. She cared about each word. She was very precise. I was crazy about her. And lovely. Very kind."

For more on Diller's life and legacy, watch Bill Whitaker's full report in the video below.

Diller saw Rivers for the first time in Greenwich Village in New York. "I was on the bill with Barbra Streisand," Rivers said. "... Phyllis came and sat in the front and laughed and applauded and was so generous when she went backstage."

Rivers, who saw Diller just three weeks ago for lunch, said the comedienne was not ill. Rivers said, "She was fine. She was losing her eyesight a little bit, but boy, oh, boy, (she was) sharp. We were talking about comics and the internet. I mean, right up there."


Diller was 37 when she broke into comedy. Rivers said the icon had to "unsex herself totally" because people didn't want to see a woman in the business. "She was good looking in her private life," Rivers said. "She made herself (that image) with the hair and (the laugh). I think it took her longer because she was a woman and she had to make herself really homely. ... She was chic in real life. I was crazy about her."

"She had more confidence than I," Rivers added. "She walked out on a stage, and to the end, from the first time I saw her to the last time I saw her, I never walked away without saying, 'Why didn't I think of that?' She was so smart and she cared so much. ...I've been tearing up all day," Rivers said. "I really liked her so much. So much."

For more with Rivers on Diller, including her favorite Diller joke, talk about plastic surgery, and more, watch the video in the player above.


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