Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Hoest, Bill  Search this
Art Steel Company, Inc.  Search this
Diller, Phyllis  Search this
Art Steel Company, Inc.  Search this
Physical Description:
steel (overall material)
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
adhesive (overall material)
overall: 5 1/8 in x 18 1/2 in x 16 1/8 in; 13.0175 cm x 46.99 cm x 40.9575 cm
Object Name:
Place made:
United States: New York, New York City
Date made:
ca 1962 - 1994
This beige metal cabinet is an expansion to Phyllis Diller’s gag file (Catalog Number 2003.0289.01.01), a categorized archive of the jokes Diller used in her stand-up comedy routines throughout her half-century long career. The 3 drawers of this expansion, along with the 48 drawers in the main cabinet, contain a total of 52,569 3-by-5 inch index cards, each holding a typewritten joke or gag. These index cards are organized alphabetically by subject ranging from accessories to world affairs and covering almost everything in between.
Phyllis Diller (1917-2012) began her comedy career in the 1950s at the age of 37 and broke barriers in the comedy world to become the first solo female comic to be a household name. She developed a stage persona of an incompetent housewife and dressed in outlandish outfits with wild hair. Her material focused on self-deprecating jokes that tackled the idealized image of American mothers and homemakers. She also created many mythical personas for her stage act including her “husband” Fang, her “neighbor” Mrs. Clean, and her “mother-in-law” Moby Dick.
Currently not on view
Humor  Search this
Comics  Search this
Comedians  Search this
Credit Line:
Gift of Phyllis Diller
ID Number:
Accession number:
Catalog number:
See more items in:
Cultural and Community Life: Entertainment
Popular Entertainment
Phyllis Diller
Data Source:
National Museum of American History