Ensemble worn by Phyllis Diller on USO Tour

Ensemble worn by Phyllis Diller on USO Tour

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Phyllis Diller wore this outfit, including the green dress with a metallic daisy pattern, a pair of green and gold shoe boots, a pair of green gloves, and a cigarette holder with a wooden cigarette, when she joined Bob Hope’s USO Christmas tour in 1966. Also included on the tour that year were bandleader Les Brown, singer/actress/dancer Joey Heatherson, singer Vic Damone, singer Anita Bryant, the Korean Kittens singing and dance group, baton twirler Diane Shelton, Miss World Reita Feria, and Bob Hope’s wife Dolores. The troupe toured around Vietnam, Thailand, Guam, Wake Island, and the Philippines entertaining troops. The subsequent television special aired in the United States on January 18, 1967.

Diller was lifelong friends with Bob Hope, co-starring with him in 3 films and many TV specials. She had to change her usual material for this trip because her normal jokes about parenting and housekeeping were aimed at the people back home and not those fighting a war halfway across the world. Hope helped Diller create an entirely new routine where he played the straight man and allowed Diller to perform all of the jokes, which resulted in a bickering married couple routine. While Diller’s signature prop was a cigarette holder, it only ever held a wooden prop cigarette; she was a lifelong non-smoker. In 1978, the USO of Philadelphia, Inc. awarded Diller the USO Liberty Bell Award “for demonstrating concern for the welfare and morale of America’s armed forces.” The award is also at NMAH (Catalog Number 2003.0289.42).

Object Name
date made
ca 1966
Diller, Phyllis
Physical Description
synthetic fibers (overall material)
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
leather (overall material)
elastic (overall material)
nylon (overall material)
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
adhesive (overall material)
overall (dress): 35 in x 15 in; 88.9 cm x 38.1 cm
overall (shoe boots): 6 1/2 in x 9 in x 2 3/4 in; 16.51 cm x 22.86 cm x 6.985 cm
overall (gloves): 7 3/4 in x 3 in; 19.685 cm x 7.62 cm
overall (cigarette holder): 9 3/8 in x 1/4 in; 23.8125 cm x.635 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Phyllis Diller
Vietnam War
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Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Popular Entertainment
Phyllis Diller
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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