Hot Property

Phyllis Diller's wacky world of wigs occupied one corner of her Brentwood home in this 2002 file photo. (Los Angeles Times)

Comic Phyllis Diller, who died Monday at 95, was one of former Hot Property columnist Ruth Ryon's favorite interview subjects.


While doing a story on the entertainer at her Brentwood home more than a decade ago, Ryon discovered a prolific artist, a classical pianist and a wacky-wig room.

Diller's Country English-style house in Brentwood reflected her varied pursuits. On Ryon's home tour, the comedian popped in front of a painting of an empty nightclub stage to put herself in the spotlight. In addition to an upstairs gallery filled with Diller's work in oil, acrylics and watercolor, the walls in many rooms of the nearly 10,000-square-foot home were lined with art.

Asked how many wigs were stored in her wig-and-costume room, Diller laughed: "I never counted."

In the decades since buying the house in 1965, Diller named many of its 22 rooms. The living room became the Bob Hope Salon after the comic actor whom Diller considered her mentor. A large oil painting of Hope stood an easel in the room during Ryon's visit, and a concert grand occupied an alcove.

The Bach Room doubled as her office and a salon. Her baby grand sat on a stage at one end of the room.

Some room names were takes on sight gags: a yellow guest room was called the Canary Suite; the red-walled kitchen, the Scarlet Scullery; a room with an organ in it, the Pump Room.

But perhaps most reflective of her comic sensibilities were these two: a powder room she named the Edith Head; and a telephone room called the John Wilkes Booth.

lauren.beale@latimes.com

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