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TLS: "Claude" as Member of Congress, 1½ pages, 8½x11. Washington, D.C., 1984 May 22. On letterhead of Congress of the United States, House of Representatives to comedienne and actress Phyllis Diller. Begins: "Dear Phyllis".

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TLS: "Claude" as Member of Congress, 1½ pages, 8½x11. Washington, D.C., 1984 May 22. On letterhead of Congress of the United States, House of Representatives to comedienne and actress Phyllis Diller. Begins: "Dear Phyllis". In full: "Recognizing that problems associated with our upper age population are already with us and will be increasing, my late wife and I decided that it would be very much in the public interst for us to establish an eminent scholar's chair in the cirtical subject of gerontology in conjunction with the Mildred and Claude Pepper Library at Florida State University. Only three other such chairs exist in the United States. Under the Florida Eminent Scholars Law, the State will provide $400,000 if private funds of $600,000 are raised for the establishment of an acceptable chair in one of the colleges or universities of the State of Florida. Given the large senior population in Florida, the wealth of material relative to the aging which will be available in the Mildred and Claude Pepper Library, and Florida State University's strong Multi-disciplinary Center in Gerontology which would be kindred to the Chair in Gerontology, we decided that FSU would be an ideal site for this Chair in Social Gerontology. Social Gerontology, as you know, examines the implications for society of an aging population as well as analyzes effects of changes in the social and economic structure of society upon the aged. It deals with a range of subject areas such as employment, retirement, long term care, family relations, education, the social security system, housing, transportation, and volunteers from the aging populatioin as well as volunteers serving the aging. Since these and other major issues transcend a single social science, it stimulates interaction between the basic social sciences of sociology, economics, psychology and political science, and from such applied fields as education, urban and regional planning, and social work. I feel that with the long association I have had with the problems of the elderly and the knowledge I have gained through it, this Chair in Social Gerontology will become an institution which will make a very significant contribution to the increasing problem of what we need to do to enable our elderly to render maximum assistance to themselves and to their country. We have a distinguished committee in Florida to assist in our appeal to foundations and potential donors to the the chair at FSU. We are now in the process of putting together a committee in Washington to carry out the extensive preparation which is under way for a large dinner here on October 4th commemorating my 84th birthday, for the purpose of raising funds toward our $600,000 goal. If we have a few commitments for sizable contributions from corporations, foundations, and labor, conditioned upon the remainder of the $600,000 being raised, it would be a very desirable base from which we could make our solicitation. Establishing this Chair in Gerontology at Florida State University would mean much to the elderly of the future, to the future of America, and to me. I believe you could be of significant help in making this dream a reality by agreeing to serve as an Honorary Committee Member for the dinner on October 4th. Of course, no actual work would be required, but your good name, your support, and particularly your attendance would be invaluable in encouraging our friends to help make the chair project a great success. I sincerely hope you will find that it is possible for you to lend your support to this project, and I will look forward to your response. Warm personal regards, and Always sincerely". Words underlined have been underlined in red pen (unknown hand). Pepper and his wife, Mildred Webster Pepper, had donated his extensive collection of papers and memorabilia to Florida State University in the 1980s. Today, the Pepper Institute on Aging & Public Policy is housed at the university. Over his long political career, CLAUDE DENSON PEPPER (1900-1980), a U.S. Army veteran of WWI, was a champion of the rights of the elderly. Pepper, who served as a Democratic U.S. Senator from Florida from 1936-1951, was a U.S. Congressman from the State from 1963-1989. From 1977-1983, he was Chairman of the House Select Committee on Aging. Pepper was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on May 26, 1989, four days before his death in the nation's capitol on May 30. Comedienne PHYLLIS DILLER (1917-2012), known for her outrageous appearance, zany outfits, distinctive laugh and a stand-up act that featured frequent references to her fictional husband, "Fang", and zingers about her sex appeal and numerous plastic surgeries, got her big break in March 1955 (at age 37), when she debuted at San Francisco's Purple Onion club. A subsequent appearance on The Tonight Show hosted by Jack Paar launched her national career, which got a big boost after Bob Hope saw Diller in a Washington, D.C. club. A favorite of the comedian, Diller would appear in three of Hope's films and 23 of his TV specials. Diller, who recorded her first comedy record album in 1959, took her groundbreaking "funny hausfrau" act to nightclubs and television variety shows and specials and she also appeared on the big screen. Her feature film credits include Splendor in the Grass (1961), The Fat Spy (1966), Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (1966), The Sunshine Boys (1975) and The Silence of the Hams (1994), and she provided the voice of the Queen in A Bug's Life (1998). By 2000, the comedienne, who had trained as a concert pianist before her marriage (1939-1965) to Sherwood Anderson Diller, had appeared as a piano soloist with 100 symphony orchestras across the U.S. Despite retiring from nightclub/stage tours in May 2002 at the age of 84, Diller continued to make films (Motorcross Kids, 2004; Forget About It, 2005) and occasionally appear on TV programs, including two episodes of 7th Heaven (2002, 2003) and a guest shot on The Wayne Brady Show (2004). Lightly creased with folds, not at signature. Staple holes at upper blank margins, stapled at upper left corner. Fine condition.

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