All Clowns Wear Gloves

"TG: Let's talk about the character you invented for yourself, for onstage.

PD: Oh, how 'bout her!

TG: Describe the way you will typically come out for a performance.

PD: Like a maniac! Uh, dressed silly, with silly hair, funny little boots, little gloves--all clowns wear gloves. Even Mickey Mouse. And I wear gloves, little teeny short gloves, and a little short dress, and, uh, that's it. It's a funny persona. And this woman is an idiot, you know. She's a harridan. She's telling everybody what's wrong with everything, you know." (6:19-6:57)

USO outfit, 1967 tour of Vietnam. Per.fect.
From the Smithsonian Institute Blog and Collections.
No photo credit.
"PD: well, I did have the perfect breasts, the perfect figure. And, uh, m' nose was crooked...let me think, my teeth were crooked. Well, comedy is within. It has nothing to do with your appearance. My appearance helped, because it was displastic. It helped, and then I made it help more by getting crazier, and learning to be theatrical, and things like that.

TG: So, you have two personas, as you always did, one offstage and one onstage. And how are you dressing onstage now?

PD: Crazy. But chic! I mean, it's a satire of what is chic right now, that's the way I dress." (15:12- 15:50)

From a Fresh Air interview with Phyllis Diller, 1986. Listen to it here.

Phyllis Diller was so unattractive that peeping toms asked her to pull her windowshades down. Most of this interview revolves around her appearance, which is part of her act but also a famous part of her private persona as well. Lots of plastic surgery, etc. And what a vocabulary! A woman from another time and place.

Listen to the interview and hear how she got that hair! And read the Smithsonian blog post about her and the great stuff she gave to them, a great acquisition story.