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What Makes a Legend

Cameron shares more about his time with Phyllis Diller.

By Cameron Silver

I will never regret doing Dukes of Melrose solely because tonight's episode is the final TV appearance of a true legendary comedienne -- Phyllis Diller. How fortuitous that months before we lost Madame  (as we affectionately called her), I have brought you to her home, shown her wardrobe, and got a little buzzed off of her beloved gin martinis... Nice work if you can get it.  

Most don't know that Phyllis Diller retained an in-house costume designer for much of her professional life and she was very meticulous about her stage persona; even down to the odd ankle placement of her signature silver metallic Herbert Levine booties.  Everything was done for comic relief and strategic. Ms. Diller knew how her image, combined with her absolutely brilliant sense of timing, wit to end all wits, and intellectual worldliness insured that from the minute the spotlight hit her on stage to the inevitable standing ovation, her audience would be in stitches. Madame knew her DNA.

Privately, Phyllis Diller gravitated toward designer clothing from Oscar de la Renta and accessories by Judith Leiber. We got along famously because we both love luxury and a good laugh. Madame was one of a kind. I hope she's cackling from heaven during tonight's episode, filmed when she was 94 years young.

In my biz, I spend a lot of time with women of a certain age. That is how I get the good vintage. Nothing is more rewarding than going through a woman's closet and hearing her weave a history through the woven fabrics hanging in her walk-in. I joke that I often see "dead people" to source clothing, but in a society that ignores our elders, I see the wise ones that let me into their inner sartorial sanctum as my teachers and show them the respect that they have earned and deserve.

No one has earned and deserves my respect more than my amazing parents. Of course, because they are closest to me, they get to experience me unfiltered and irritable at times (many times), but their love never ceases.  My parents have taught me the most and I hope I have been a good student and son. If I am not always a golden boy around them it is because I know they always have my back and have experienced my tantrums over the last 40-plus years. I may not be a golden boy, but I am lucky to be a Silver.

Tonight is a reminder to love your elders and protect the young (through my work with The Art of Elysium). My parents taught me well. They are legends in their own right, just like Phyllis Diller.

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