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Phyllis Diller's closet

Phyllis Diller’s closet

Dec. 1978: Comedian Phyllis Diller surveying her wardrobe in her 18-foot-by-30-foot closet.

In her “Closet of the Week” column, Pat Nation reported in the Dec. 8, 1978 Los Angeles Times:

Beyond the Edith Head, a flowery powder room located discreetly off the entry hall, past the Bob Hope Salon, the Calvin Coolidge Porch furnished in vintage wicker, and the John Wilkes Booth, a small alcove for telephoning, Phyllis Diller stands in her 18-foot-by-30-foot closet surveying her extensive wardrobe, wailing that she has nothing to wear out that evening.

For the moment, the humor of the situation escapes her.

As her Lhasa Apso, Fearless Diller, circles her ankles while yapping, the comedienne removes a white silk and black cut velvet dress from one of 15 rollaway racks, tries it on and rejects it.

“It looks like the wallpaper in a very cheap Italian restaurant for gangsters,” she hoots, emitting the window-ratting trademark Diller laugh.

Finally, after three false starts, she settles on a three-piece orange evening pants outfit, bugle beads trimming the jacket and matching scarf. “I usually try on about 19 things before I find what I wear,” she confesses.

The problem is one of plenty. Diller, a lover of fine fabrics and workmanship, doesn’t throw anything out. So her wardrobe grows … and grows … and grows. The overflow is stored upstairs.

“Honey, I adore clothes. Always have, even as a baby. I follow fashion like a scientist follows rats. If I like something, I buy it in all colors.”

Her main closet, formerly the study of the master bedroom suite, and the adjacent dressing room are fastidiously organized.

Charts are maintained of what she wore in what shot. “I never repeat outfits,” says Diller. “When people are paying to see me, I don’t want them to see me in the same dress. I feel a responsibility to my public, I should look like a star.”

Looking at her vast collection of clothes, she shakes her head and says, “I have a jeweler and furrier who make house calls–and a doctor who won’t.”

“The problem is, I like all these things. I should go to a shrink and get cured.”

This photo by retired director of photographer Larry Armstrong accompanied Nation’s column in the Dec. 8, 1978 Los Angeles Times.

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