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Joan Alexandra Molinsky[10] (June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014), known professionally as Joan Rivers, was an American comedian, actress, writer, producer, and television host. She was noted for her often controversial comedic persona—heavily self-deprecating or sharply acerbic, especially toward celebrities and politicians.

Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers 2010 - David Shankbone.jpg
Rivers in 2010
Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky
(1933-06-08)June 8, 1933
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died September 4, 2014(2014-09-04) (aged 81)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Cause of death Cerebral hypoxia
Resting place Ashes scattered in Wyoming [1]
Alma mater Barnard College (B.A., 1954)
Occupation Comedian, actress, writer, producer, television host
Years active 1959–2014
Spouse(s) James Sanger
(m. 1955; annulled 1955)

Edgar Rosenberg
(m. 1965; d. 1987)
Children Melissa Rivers
Parent(s) Meyer C. Molinsky
Beatrice Molinsky
Comedy career
Medium Stand-up, film, television, theatre, literature
Genres Observational comedy, insult comedy, shock comedy, black comedy, blue comedy, improvisational comedy
Website JoanRivers.com

Rivers rose to prominence in 1965 as a guest on The Tonight Show. Hosted by her mentor, Johnny Carson, the show established Rivers' comedic style. In 1986, with her own rival program, The Late Show with Joan Rivers, Rivers became the first woman to host a late night network television talk show. She subsequently hosted The Joan Rivers Show (1989–1993), winning a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host. Since the mid-1990s, she became known for her comedic red carpet awards show celebrity interviews,[11][12] and in 2009, she was the Celebrity Apprentice Winner. Rivers co-hosted the E! celebrity fashion show Fashion Police from 2010 to 2014 and starred in the reality series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? (2011–2014) with daughter Melissa Rivers. She was the subject of the documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010).

In addition to marketing a line of jewelry and apparel on the QVC shopping channel, Rivers authored 12 best-selling books and three LP comedy albums under her own name: Mr. Phyllis And Other Funny Stories (Warner Bros 1965), The Next To Last Joan Rivers Album (Buddah 1969), and What Becomes A Semi-Legend Most? (Geffen 1983). She was nominated in 1984 for a Grammy Award for her album What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most?; and was nominated in 1994 for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance of the title role in Sally Marr...and Her Escorts. In 2015, Rivers posthumously received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for her book, Diary of a Mad Diva.[13]

In 1968, The New York Times television critic Jack Gould called Rivers "quite possibly the most intuitively funny woman alive".[14][15] In 2017, Rolling Stone magazine ranked her sixth on its list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time,[16] and in October the same year, she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Joan Alexandra Molinsky was born on June 8, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York,[17][18][19] to Russian Jewish immigrants Beatrice (née Grushman) and Meyer C. Molinsky,[19] who graduated from Long Island College of Medicine. She had an elder sister named Barbara Waxler.[20][21][22] Rivers spent her early life in Prospect Heights[23] and Crown Heights[24] in Brooklyn, where she attended the progressive and now-defunct Brooklyn Ethical Culture School and Adelphi Academy of Brooklyn, a college preparatory day school, where she was co-chairman of her school, due to her past experiences in theatrical activities. Within 2 years, she performed in the School Cavalcades, and in 1949, aged 16, she was vice president of the Dramatic Club.[25] She graduated from the Adelphi Academy of Brooklyn, in 1950, at almost 17. In her adolescence, Rivers relocated with her family to Larchmont, north of New York City.[19] Rivers stated in interviews that she was overweight throughout her childhood and adolescence, and that it had a profound impact on her body image, which she would struggle with throughout her life.[26]

She attended Connecticut College between 1950 and 1952, and graduated from Barnard College in 1954 with a B.A. summa cum laude in English literature and anthropology; she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[18][19] Before entering show business, Rivers worked at various jobs such as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center,[27] a writer/proofreader at an advertising agency[28] and a fashion consultant at Bond Clothing Stores.[19][29] During this period, agent Tony Rivers advised her to change her name, so she chose Joan Rivers as her stage name.[30]

CareerEdit

1950s–1960sEdit

 
Rivers with Jim Connell and Jake Holmes in "Jim, Jake & Joan", circa early 1960s

During the late 1950s, Rivers appeared in a short off-Broadway run play, Driftwood, co-starring Barbra Streisand. It ran for six weeks on playwright Maurice Tei Dunn's apartment on 49th Street, in NYC, according to an interview with Adweek.[31][32] Rivers performed in numerous comedy clubs in the Greenwich Village area of New York City in the early 1960s, including The Bitter End, The Gaslight Cafe [33] and The Duplex. Between 1963 and 1964, Rivers, along with Jim Connell and Jake Holmes, were in the cabaret act "Jim, Jake & Joan". A 1964 appearance at The Bitter End resulted in their appearance in the motion picture, Once Upon A Coffee House, which was also Rivers' first big screen credit. The group parted ways shortly afterwards, on which member Holmes later recalled: "We were supposed to do this rally for Bobby Kennedy, who was running for New York senator in 1964. We were going to play at the rally. Joan showed up with a [Republican Senate nominee Kenneth] Keating button on. And Jim said take that off. She said no — she was sticking to her political guns. And Jim said, "Who needs you, anyway?" That was the end [of Jim, Jake & Joan] [...]".[34]

She also made an appearance as a guest on the television program The Tonight Show originating from New York, hosted at the time by Jack Paar.[35] By 1965, Rivers had a stint on Candid Camera as a gag writer and participant; she was "the bait" to lure people into ridiculous situations for the show. After seven auditions during a period of three years, she made her first appearance on The Tonight Show with new host Johnny Carson, on February 17, 1965.[36] Rivers credited this episode to be her breakthrough, as Carson said to her on the air "you're gonna be a star".[37] Following this appeareance, she became a frequent guest on the program and a close friend of Carson.

As her profile raised significantly in the subsequent years, she started to make guest-appearances in numerous popular shows, including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Mike Douglas Show, The Dick Cavett Show and Girl Talk, with Virginia Graham. She also wrote material for the puppet Topo Gigio. She had a brief role in the cult drama film The Swimmer (1968), starring Burt Lancaster, and at the time, she also had a short-lived syndicated daytime talk show, That Show with Joan Rivers, which premiered on September 16, 1968. Each episode had a theme and Rivers did an opening monologue based on the day's topic.[38] The show also featured an expert on the subject and a celebrity guest; Johnny Carson was her first guest.[39] In the middle of the 1960s, she released at least two comedy albums, The Next to Last Joan Rivers Album[40] and Rivers Presents Mr. Phyllis & Other Funny Stories.[41]

1970sEdit

By the 1970s, Rivers continued to be a prominent fixture on television. Along with her other guest-spots on the late-night circuit, she also made appearances in The Carol Burnett Show, had a semi-regular stint on Hollywood Squares and guest-starred in Here's Lucy. Rivers made her Broadway debut in the play Fun City, which opened on January 2, 1972 and co-starred Gabriel Dell, Rose Marie and Paul Ford. It ran for only nine performance amid a negative critical reception. Though a New York Times reviewer criticized the production as "frenetic to the point of being frazzled", he praised Rivers as "a deft comedy writer" and "a very funny lady".[42] From 1972 to 1976, she narrated The Adventures of Letterman, an animated segment for The Electric Company.

In 1973, Rivers wrote the made-for-television movie The Girl Most Likely to..., a black comedy starring Stockard Channing as an ugly girl who becomes beautiful after undergoing plastic surgery, and takes revenge of people who previously mistreated her. The film, based on a Rivers' story, became a ratings success and has been considered a "cult classic".[43] She also wrote a thrice-weekly column for The Chicago Tribune from 1973 to 1976, and published her first book, Having a Baby Can Be a Scream, in 1974; she described it as a "catalogue of gynaecological anxieties".[44] In 1978, Rivers made her directorial debut with the comedy Rabbit Test, which she also wrote and starred her friend Billy Crystal in his film debut as the world's first pregnant man. The film flopped at the box office and was panned by critics.[45] Janet Maslin of The New York Times concluded: "Miss Rivers has turned to directing without paying much heed to whether a whole movie constructed from one-liners is worth even the sum of its parts".[46] During the same decade, she was the opening act for singers Helen Reddy, Robert Goulet, Mac Davis and Sergio Franchi on the Las Vegas Strip.[47]

1980sEdit

During the early and mid-1980s, Rivers found further success on stand-up and television, through the decade subsequently proved to be controversial for her. The year 1983, in particular, was very successful; she performed at Carnegie Hall in February,[48] did the March stand-up special An Audience with Joan Rivers, hosted the April 9 episode of Saturday Night Live, and released the best-selling comedy album What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most?, which reached No. 22 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.[49] By August 1983, Carson established Rivers as his first regular guest host on The Tonight Show. At the time, she spoke of her primary Tonight Show life as having been "Johnny Carson's daughter", a reference to his longtime mentoring of her.[50]

During the 1980s and 1990s Rivers served on the advisory board of the National Student Film Institute.[51][52] A friend of Nancy and President Ronald Reagan, Rivers attended a state dinner in 1983, and later, at the invitation of Nancy, spoke at luncheon at the 1984 Republican National Convention.[53] In 1984, Rivers published a best-selling humor book, The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz, a mock memoir of her brassy, loose comedy character. A television special based on the character, a mock tribute called Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abramowitz, later aired on Showtime.[54] She later wrote her next book, Enter Talking, which was released in 1986, and described her rise to stardom and the evolution of her comedic persona.[55]

 
Rivers in 1987

In 1986 came the move that ended Rivers' longtime friendship with Johnny Carson. The soon-to-launch Fox Television Network announced that it was giving her a late night talk show, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, making Rivers the first woman to have her own late-night talk show on a major network.[56][57] The new network planned to broadcast the show 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. Eastern Time, making her a Carson competitor. Carson learned of the show from Fox and not from Rivers. In the documentary, Johnny Carson: King of Late Night, Rivers said she only called Carson to discuss the matter after learning he may have already heard about it and that he immediately hung up on her. In the same interview, she said that she later came to believe that maybe she should have asked for his blessing before taking the job. Rivers was banned from appearing on the Tonight Show, a decision respected by Carson's first two successors Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. Rivers did not appear on the Tonight Show again until February 17, 2014, when she made a brief appearance on new host Jimmy Fallon's first episode.[58] On March 27, 2014, Rivers returned to the show for an interview.

The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers premiered on October 9, 1986 and soon turned out to be flecked by tragedy. When Rivers challenged FOX executives, who wanted to fire her husband Edgar Rosenberg as the show's producer, the network fired them both on May 15, 1987. Three months later, on August 14, 1987, Rosenberg committed suicide in Philadelphia; Rivers blamed the tragedy on his "humiliation" by Fox.[59] Rivers credited Nancy Reagan with helping her after her husband's suicide.[60] Fox attempted to continue the show with a new name (The Late Show) and rotating guest hosts.

During the airing of her late-night show, she made the voice-over role of Dot Matrix in the science-fiction comedy Spaceballs (1987), a parody mainly on Star Wars. The film, directed and co-starring Mel Brooks, was a critical and commercial success, later becoming a "cult classic".[61] After the Fox controversy, her career went into hiatus. Rivers subsequently appeared on various television shows, including the Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special in December 1989. She also appeared as one of the center square occupants on the 1986–89 version of The Hollywood Squares, hosted by John Davidson. On September 5, 1989, The Joan Rivers Show, her daytime television program, premiered in broadcast syndication. The show, which ran for five seasons, was a success and earned Rivers the Daytime Emmy in 1990 for Outstanding Talk Show Host.[62] Entertainment Weekly, in a September 1990 article, asserted: "The Joan Rivers Show is a better showcase for her funny edginess than her doomed 1988 Fox nighttime program was. The best thing about her daytime talker is that Rivers' stream-of-consciousness chattiness is allowed to guide the show — you never know where the conversation is going to go".[63]

1990sEdit

In addition to winning the Emmy for The Joan Rivers Show, Rivers starred in the made-for-television comedy How to Murder a Millionaire, which premiered in May 1990 on CBS. In the film, co-starring Alex Rocco and Telma Hopkins, she took on the role of a Beverly Hills matron possessed with the idea her husband is trying to kill her.[64] Also in 1990, she started to design jewelry, clothing and beauty products for the shopping channel QVC. On this professional endeavor, Rivers said: "In those days, only dead celebrities went on [QVC]. My career was over. I had bills to pay. [...] It also intrigued me at the beginning".[65] The sales of Rivers' products exceed $1 billion by 2014, making her one of the network's top sellers.[66] In 1991, she wrote her next book, Still Talking, which described the cancellation of her late-night show and her husband's suicide.[67] Until 1993, she received five additional Emmy nominations for her daytime talk-show The Joan Rivers Show — two for Outstanding Writing – Special Class and three for Outstanding Talk Show Host.[68]

In 1994, Rivers and daughter Melissa first hosted the E! Entertainment Television pre-awards show for the Golden Globe Awards[69] and, beginning in 1995, E!'s annual Academy Awards pre-awards show as well.[69] Rivers and her daughter quickly became credited for revolutionizing the red carpet as a space to showcase designers' work and celebrity interactions. "Joan and Melissa were the first people who came out and made it more of a true conversation between star and reporter", E!'s Senior Vice President of production, Gary Snegaroff, remarked to Vanity Fair. "They asked about what [actresses] were wearing because that's what the magazines would cover after the fact, and turned it into a candid conversation on the carpet where anything could happen".[70] Rivers and Melissa, at the time, both portrayed themselves in the made-for-television drama Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story, which chronicled the aftermath of Rosenburg's suicide. It aired on NBC on May 15, 1994.[71] The next year, she wrote her book Jewelry by Joan Rivers.[72]

Influenced by the stand-up comedy of Lenny Bruce, Rivers co-wrote and starred in a play about Bruce's mother Sally Marr, who was also a stand-up comic and influenced her son's development as a comic. After 27 previews, Sally Marr ... and Her Escorts, a play "suggested by the life of Sally Marr" ran on Broadway for 50 performances in May and June 1994.[73] The production received mixed reviews, but her performance was applauded by critics. The Chicago Sun Times found Rivers to be "compelling" as an actress[74] while The New York Times wrote: "[...] [S]he is exuberant, fearless and inexhaustible. If you admire performers for taking risks, then you can't help but applaud her efforts".[75] Rivers was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Play and a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for playing Marr.[76] Beginning in 1997, Rivers hosted her own radio show on WOR in New York City, and wrote three self-help books: Bouncing Back: I've Survived Everything ... and I Mean Everything ... and You Can Too! in 1997,[77] From Mother to Daughter: Thoughts and Advice on Life, Love and Marriage in 1998,[78] and Don't Count the Candles: Just Keep the Fire Lit!, in 1999.[79]

2000sEdit

 
Rivers poses for a photograph at The Pierre hotel in New York City, May 24, 2001

Rivers was a guest speaker at the opening of the American Operating Room Nurses' San Francisco Conference in 2000, and by the first part of the decade, she continued to host the awards' red carpet for the E! channel. Between 2002 and 2004, she embarked on tour with her one-person comedy show Joan Rivers: Broke and Alone, which was presented in the United Kingdom (Edinburgh and London) and in the United States (Los Angeles, and Boston), to generally positive reviews.[80] The Telegraph felt that her "hilarious assaults on fellow celebrities and tirades about the perils of ageing and plastic surgery are well worth the expense",[81] while The Guardian remarked that "Rivers returned triumphant, a victorious heavyweight after a great fight, conscious that she is still the champion".[82]

In 2003, Rivers left the network red-carpet show for a three-year contract (valued at $6–8 million) to cover award shows' red carpet events for the TV Guide Channel.[83] Meanwhile, Rivers guest-starred as herself in several television series, including Curb Your Enthusiasm, Nip/Tuck, and Boston Legal,[84][85][86] and also voiced herself for a brief scene in the 2004 animated fantasy film Shrek 2.[87] In 2004, Rivers was part of the formal receiving party when Ronald Reagan was placed in state at the United States Capitol.[88][89] On December 3, 2007, Rivers performed at the 79th Royal Variety Show at the Liverpool Empire Theatre, England, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip present.[90] She wrote and starred in the play Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress, which was directed by Sean Foley, and presented through 2008 at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Leicester Square Theatre, to a mixed critical reception.[91][92]

Throughout the decade, Rivers often appeared in various television game shows, including 8 Out of 10 Cats, Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack, and Celebrity Family Feud, in which she competed with her daughter against Ice-T and Coco. In 2009, Rivers and daughter Melissa were contestants on the season eight of Celebrity Apprentice. During the season, each celebrity raised money for a charity of his or her choice; Rivers selected God's Love We Deliver.[93] After a falling out with poker player Annie Duke, following Melissa's on-air firing (elimination) by Donald Trump, Rivers left the green room telling Clint Black and Jesse James that she would not be in the next morning. Rivers later returned to the show and on May 3, 2009, she became a finalist in the series. The other finalist was Duke.[94][95] On the season finale, which aired live on May 10, Rivers was announced the winner and hired to be the 2009 Celebrity Apprentice.

Also in 2009, Rivers was a special "pink-carpet" presenter for the broadcast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, was roasted in a Comedy Central special, and her reality show, How'd You Get So Rich?, premiered on TV Land. The program, which ran for two seasons, followed Rivers traveling around the United States interviewing self-made millionaires.[96] She also wrote two books in 2009: Murder at the Academy Awards (R): A Red Carpet Murder Mystery and Men Are Stupid...And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery (with Valerie Frankel).

2010sEdit

A documentary film about Rivers, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival on May 6, 2010. The film follows Rivers for 14 months, mostly during the 76th year of her life,[97] and made an effort to "[peel] away the mask" and expose the "struggles, sacrifices and joy of living life as a ground breaking female performer."[98] The documentary found commercial success in its limited release and was acclaimed by critics for providing "an honest, behind-the-scenes look at [Rivers]' career — and at show business in general".[99] Beginning on September 10, 2010, Rivers co-hosted the E! show Fashion Police, along with Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne, and George Kotsiopoulos, commenting on celebrity fashion. The show started as a half-hour program but due to its success with viewers, it was expanded to one hour on March 9, 2012. The August 26, 2014 episode of Fashion Police, about the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards and the 2014 MTV Movie Awards, was her last television appearance before her death.[100]

In 2011, Rivers appeared in a commercial for Go Daddy, which debuted during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLV,[101] and was featured as herself in the season two of Louis C.K.'s self-titled show Louie, where she performed on-stage. Also in 2011, Rivers and her daughter starred in the reality show Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?, which premiered on WE tv. The series follows her moving in with her daughter to California to be closer to her family. The show ran for four seasons until 2014. On the December 4, 2011 episode of The Simpsons, "The Ten-Per-Cent Solution", Rivers took on the role of Annie Dubinsky, an agent trying to revive Krusty's career.[102] Hayden Childs of The A.V. Club praised the choice of having Rivers guest star since she was able to "employ her trademark humor within the world of The Simpsons without hijacking the plot or satire".[103] In 2012, she guest-starred in two episodes of two series: Drop Dead Diva and Hot in Cleveland.

Rivers released her eleventh book I Hate Everyone...Starting with Me on June 5, 2012. It received generally positive reviews and made The New York Times Best Seller list for several weeks. The New York Times remarked that there were "more punch lines per paragraph than any book I've read in years",[104] and Publishers Weekly felt that "Rivers is equally passionate and opinionated on every subject she discusses. Hilarious and undeniably original".[105] On August 7, 2012, Rivers showed up in Burbank, California to protest that the warehouse club Costco would not sell the book. She handcuffed herself to a shopping cart and shouted through a megaphone. The police were called to the scene and she left without incident; no arrests were made.[106] On March 5, 2013, she launched the online talk show In Bed with Joan on YouTube. In it, Rivers invited a different guest to talk to her in bed about different things including their past, their love life and their career.

Rivers released her twelfth book, Diary of a Mad Diva, on July 1, 2014, which also made The NY Times Best Seller list.[107] For the book, she posthumously won the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2015. Before her death, she filmed a part, along with other female comedians, for the documentary MAKERS: Women in Comedy, which premiered on PBS in October 2014.[108]

Comedic styleEdit

"He was an epiphany. Lenny told the truth. It was a total affirmation for me that I was on the right track long before anyone said it to me. He supplied the revelation that personal truth can be the foundation of comedy, that outrageousness can be cleansing and healthy. It went off inside me like an enormous flash.

—Rivers on seeing Lenny Bruce perform at a local club while she was in college influenced her developing style[109]

During her 55-year career as a comedian, her tough-talking style of satirical humor was both praised and criticized as truthful, yet too personal, too gossipy, and very often abrasive. Nonetheless, with her ability to "tell it like it is," she became a pioneer of contemporary stand-up comedy. Commenting about her style, she told biographer Gerald Nachman, "Maybe I started it. We're a very gossipy culture. All we want to know now is private lives."[110] However, her style of humor, which often relied on making jokes about her own life and satirizing the lives of celebrities and public figures, was sometimes criticized as insensitive. Her jokes about Elizabeth Taylor and Adele's weight, for instance, were often commented on, although Rivers would never apologize for her humor.[111][112]

Rivers, who was Jewish, was also criticized for making jokes about the Holocaust and later explained, "This is the way I remind people about the Holocaust. I do it through humor", adding, "my husband lost his entire family in the Holocaust."[113] Her joke about the victims of the Ariel Castro kidnappings similarly came under criticism, but she again refused to apologize,[114] stating, "I know what those girls went through. It was a little stupid joke."[115] She received multiple death threats throughout her career.[116] Rivers accepted such criticism as part of her using social satire as a form of humor: "I've learned to have absolutely no regrets about any jokes I've ever done ... You can tune me out, you can click me off, it's OK. I am not going to bow to political correctness. But you do have to learn, if you want to be a satirist, you can't be part of the party."[117]

As an unknown stand-up comedian out of college, she struggled for many years before finding her comic style. She did stints in the Catskills and found that she disliked the older style of comedy at the time, such as Phyllis Diller's, who she felt was a pioneer female comedian.[118] Her breakthrough came at The Second City in Chicago in 1961, where she was dubbed "the best girl since Elaine May," who also got her start there. But May became her and fellow comedian Treva Silverman's role model, as Rivers saw her as "an assertive woman with a marvelous, fast mind and, at the same time, pretty and feminine."[118] It was also there that she learned "self reliance," she said, "that I didn't have to talk down in my humor" and could still earn an income by making intelligent people laugh. "I was really born as a comedian at Second City. I owe it my career."[119]

 
Rivers performing in her show at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In early 1965, at the suggestion of comedian Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson gave Rivers, whom he billed as a comedy writer, her debut appearance on his show.[120][121] Cosby, who knew Rivers from their early stand-up days, described her as "an intelligent girl without being a weirdo ... a human being, not a kook."[122] Sitting alongside Johnny after her monologue, she displayed an intimate, conversational style which he appreciated, and she was invited back eight more times that year.[120] Time magazine compared her humor to that of Woody Allen, by expressing "how to be neurotic about practically everything," but noting that "her style and femininity make her something special." Rivers also compared herself to Allen, stating: "He was a writer, which I basically was ... and talking about things that affected our generation that nobody else talked about."[122] The New York Times critic Charles L. Mee likewise compared her to Allen, explaining that her "style was personal, an autobiographical stream-of-consciousness."[120]

Rivers' image contrasted starkly with Carson's stage demeanor, which was one of the reasons he made her co-host according to critic Michael Pollan, who compared their style of humor: Where Carson is scrupulously polite, Rivers is bitchy; where he is low-key, she is overheated; where he is Midwest, Waspy and proper, she is urban, ethnic and gossipy. Carson conducts interviews as if he were at the country club; Rivers does hers at the kitchen table.[123] In her personal life, she had fewer of those neurotic or intense character traits, according to Ralph Schoenstein, who dated her and worked with her on her humor books. He said, "She has no airs. She doesn't stand on ceremony. The woman has absolutely no pretense. She'll tell you everything immediately. Joan isn't cool—she's completely open. It's all grist. It's her old thing—'Can we talk?'"[124] According to biographer Victoria Price, Rivers' humor was notable for taking aim at and overturning what had been considered acceptable female behavior. By her bravura she broke through long-standing taboos in humor, which paved the way for other women, including Roseanne Barr, Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O'Donnell.[125]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2002, Rivers told the Montreal Mirror that she was a Republican.[126] On January 28, 2014, during a conversation between Rivers and Reza Farahan of the Shahs of Sunset, Melissa Rivers interjected to clarify that she and her mother were "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" Republicans.[127] Rivers was raised in Reform Judaism; she stated in a 2008 interview that she considered herself to be more agnostic and she "did not believe in the afterlife."[26]

Rivers was one of only four Americans invited to the Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla Parker Bowles on April 9, 2005.[128]

Relationships and familyEdit

 
Rivers with her daughter, Melissa, during New York Fashion Week, 2012.

Rivers' first marriage was in 1955 to James Sanger, the son of a Bond Clothing Stores merchandise manager.[19][129] The marriage lasted six months[19][130] and was annulled on the basis that Sanger did not want children and had not informed Rivers before the wedding.[131]

Rivers married Edgar Rosenberg on July 15, 1965.[132] Their only child, Melissa Rivers, was born on January 20, 1968. Joan Rivers had one grandson, Cooper, born Edgar Cooper Endicott in 2000.[133] Along with his mother and grandmother, Cooper was featured in the WE tv series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?[134] Rivers was married to Rosenberg until his suicide in 1987, four days after she asked him for a separation.[135][136] She would later describe her marriage to Rosenberg as a "total sham", complaining bitterly about his treatment of her during their 22-year marriage.[137] In a 2012 interview with Howard Stern, Rivers said she had several extramarital affairs when married to Rosenberg, including a one-night affair with actor Robert Mitchum in the 1960s and an affair with actor Gabriel Dell.[138] In the 1990s, she was in an eight year relationship with the commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation and disabled World War II veteran, Orin Lehman of the Lehman family.[139][140]

In her book Bouncing Back, Rivers described how she developed bulimia nervosa after the 1987 suicide of Rosenberg, and the subsequent death of her psychologist, with whom she'd developed a close friendship, of AIDS.[26] Additionally, Rivers' relationship with her daughter had been strained at the time; according to Rivers, the confluence of events resulted in her contemplating suicide in her California home.[26] "I got the gun out, the whole thing," she recalled in a 2008 interview. "And [then] my dog came and sat in my lap... and that was a big turning point in my life. My little, stupid dog, a Yorkie, who I adored, literally came and sat on my lap....and literally, he saved my life. Truly saved my life."[26] Rivers eventually recovered with counseling and the support of her family.[141]

PhilanthropyEdit

As a philanthropist, Rivers supported causes including HIV/AIDS activism,[18] and in May 1985, she appeared along with Nichols and May at a Comic Relief benefit for the new AIDS Medical Foundation in New York City, where tickets at the Shubert Theatre sold for as much as $500.[142] She supported the Elton John AIDS Foundation[143] and God's Love We Deliver, which delivers meals to HIV/AIDS patients in New York City.[144][145] In 2008, she was commended by the City of San Diego, California for her philanthropic work regarding HIV/AIDS, where the HIV/AIDS community called her their "Joan of Arc."[146]

Additionally, she served as an Honorary Director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.[144][147] She also supported Guide Dogs for the Blind, a non-profit organization which provides guide dogs to blind people.[144] She donated to Jewish charities, animal welfare efforts, and suicide prevention causes.[18] Among the other non-profit organizations she helped were Rosie's Theater Kids, Habitat for Humanity, Human Rights Campaign[143] and the Boy Scouts of America.[148]

Cosmetic proceduresEdit

Rivers was open about her multiple cosmetic surgeries and was a patient of plastic surgeon Steven Hoefflin, beginning in 1983. She had her nose thinned while still at college; her next procedure, an eye lift, was performed in 1965 (when she was in her thirties) as an attempt to further her career.[149][150] When promoting her book, Men Are Stupid ... And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery, described by The New York Times Magazine as "a detailed and mostly serious guide to eye lifts, tummy tucks and other forms of plastic surgery", she quipped: "I've had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware."[151][152]

DeathEdit

On August 28, 2014, Rivers experienced serious complications and stopped breathing while undergoing what was scheduled as a minor throat procedure at an outpatient clinic in Yorkville, Manhattan.[153][154] Resuscitated an hour later, Rivers was transferred to the hospital and later put on life support.[155] She died on September 4 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, having never awoken from a medically induced coma.[156] The New York City Medical Examiner's Office said she died from brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen, and the details of her surgery would be investigated by officials.[157] Rivers was 81 years old.

After nearly two months of investigations, federal officials said on November 10 that the clinic made a number of mistakes both before and during the procedure. Among those were the clinic's failure to respond to Rivers' deteriorating vital signs, including a severe drop in her blood pressure, possibly administering an incorrect anesthetic dosage, performing a surgical procedure without her consent, and other medical-clinic irregularities.[158][159]

On September 7, after Rivers' cremation,[160] a private memorial service took place at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.[161][162] The service was attended by an estimated 1,500 people.[162] The guest list included Rivers' many celebrity friends, public figures and the New York City Gay Men's Chorus singing old show tunes.[161] Talk show host Howard Stern, delivering the eulogy, described Rivers as "brassy in public [and] classy in private ... a troublemaker, trail blazer, pioneer for comics everywhere, ... [who] fought the stereotypes that women can't be funny."[163] Daughter Melissa read a comedic note to her mother as part of her eulogy.[164]

On January 26, 2015, Melissa Rivers filed a malpractice lawsuit against the clinic and doctors performing surgery on her mother.[165] The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount in May 2016, with the doctors accepting responsibility.[166][167]

Reactions and tributesEdit

 
Rivers in 1967

Upon Rivers' death, friends, fans, family and celebrities paid tribute.[168][169] Numerous comedians recognized Rivers' influence on their career, including Kathy Griffin, who considered Rivers her "mentor", noting, "She brought a fearlessness and a brand of humor into our homes that we really need."[170] Chris Rock felt "she was the hippest comedian from the time she started to the day she died". Describing her as a force in comedy, he added, "No man ever said, 'Yeah, I want to go on after Joan.' No, Joan Rivers closed the show every night."[171] Other comedians recalled working with her on stage and television decades earlier: stand-up performer Don Rickles said "working with her and enjoying the fun times of life with her was special". Carol Burnett calls Rivers "the poster child for the Energizer Bunny".[172]

Numerous talk show hosts, including Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Oprah Winfrey, Sally Jessy Raphael, Geraldo Rivera, Regis Philbin, Arsenio Hall, Ellen DeGeneres and David Letterman, paid tribute to Rivers, often including video clips of her appearances. Letterman called her a "real pioneer for other women looking for careers in stand-up comedy. And talk about guts."[173] Conan O'Brien discussed Rivers' legacy with fellow comedian and lifelong friend Chris Hardwick on Conan, while Seth Meyers recalled Rivers' appearance on his talk show, saying, "I have not sat next to anyone who told more jokes faster than Joan Rivers did when she was here."[174] And on The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart noted her contributions: "There are very few people in my business that you can say are, or were, actually groundbreaking talents. Joan Rivers was one of them."[174] Radio host Howard Stern, who delivered her funeral eulogy, devoted an entire one-hour show to Rivers.[175] Stern began the eulogy with, "Joan Rivers had a dry vagina," a joke that was intended, and reportedly received by guests, as a humorous honoring of Rivers' comedic sensibility.[176][177] Sarah Silverman paid tribute to Rivers while hosting Saturday Night Live.[178] Long-time friend, comedian, fellow talk show hostess and television personality Whoopi Goldberg tweeted: "My friend Joan Rivers has passed away," She said: "Once again to quote Billy Crystal ... There are no words."[179] Comedian Amy Schumer, speaking at the 2014 Glamour magazine "Woman of the Year Awards" ceremony in Carnegie Hall, paid tribute to Rivers, calling her the bravest female comedian.[180]

Political figures giving tribute to Rivers included former first lady Nancy Reagan, who had helped Rivers after the death of her husband, Edgar Rosenberg.[181] As a friend of Prince Charles, Rivers was one of only four Americans invited to his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005. Upon hearing of her death, they said she was "utterly irreplaceable".[128] Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that besides bringing laughter to millions of people around the world, she was "proud of her Jewish heritage".[182] Future U.S. President Donald Trump attended her funeral and tweeted that she "was an amazing woman and a great friend".[183] After her mother's death, Melissa Rivers said she received a letter from President Barack Obama in which he wrote, despite being a frequent target of Rivers' jokes: "not only did she make us laugh, she made us think".[184]

In a subsequent interview with The Huffington Post, Melissa Rivers cited Courtney Love's public tribute to her mother as her favorite, adding: "I loved seeing that outpouring from these women, especially the ones who took the heat on Fashion Police, because it meant they got it. It meant they loved her. It meant they saw the humor."[185]

BooksEdit

  • Having a Baby Can Be a Scream. J.P. Tarcher. 1974.  (Self-Help/Humor)
  • The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz. Doubleday. 1984. ISBN 978-0385293594.  (Humor)
  • Enter Talking. Dell Publishing Co. 1986. ISBN 978-0440122449.  (Autobiography)
  • Still Talking. Random House. 1991. ISBN 978-0394579917.  (Autobiography)
  • Jewelry by Joan Rivers. Abbeville Press. 1995. ISBN 978-1558598089.  (Non-Fiction)
  • Bouncing Back: I've Survived Everything ... and I Mean Everything ... and You Can Too!. HarperTorch. 1997. ISBN 978-0061096013.  (Self-Help/Humor)
  • From Mother to Daughter: Thoughts and Advice on Life, Love and Marriage. Birch Lane Pr. 1998. ISBN 978-1559724937.  (Self-Help)
  • Don't Count the Candles: Just Keep the Fire Lit!. HarperCollins. 1999. ISBN 978-0060183837.  (Self-Help)
  • Murder at the Academy Awards (R): A Red Carpet Murder Mystery. Pocket. 2009. ISBN 1416599371.  (Fiction)
  • Men Are Stupid...And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery (with Valerie Frankel). 2009. ISBN 141659924X.  (Non-Fiction)
  • I Hate Everyone...Starting with Me. Berkley Trade. 2012. ISBN 978-0425255896.  (Humor)
  • Diary of a Mad Diva. Berkley Publishing Group. 2014. ISBN 978-0425269022.  (Humor)

BiographicalEdit

  • Melissa Rivers (2015). The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation. Crown Archetype. ISBN 978-1101903827.  (Memoir)
  • Leslie Bennetts (2016). Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0316261302.  (Biography)
  • Melissa Rivers, Scott Currie (2017). Joan Rivers Confidential: The Unseen Scrapbooks, Joke Cards, Personal Files, and Photos of a Very Funny Woman Who Kept Everything. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 978-1419726736.  (Photography)

DiscographyEdit

AlbumsEdit

Year Title Label Formats
1965 Mr. Phyllis And Other Funny Stories Warner Bros. Records LP, CD 2012, Download
1969 The Next To Last Joan Rivers Album Buddah Records LP, CD 2015, Download
1983 What Becomes A Semi-Legend Most? Geffen Records LP, Cassette, 8-Track, CD 2005, Download
2005 Live at the London Palladium Redbush Entertainment Audible Download[186] (2012)
2013 Don't Start With Me Entertainment One CD, Download

[187]

Compilation/Collaboration appearancesEdit

Year Title Label Track Formats
1960 Adam And Eve / Little Mozart w/ Sandy Baron Sure Records both sides 7" Single
1963 Heaven On $5 A Day Kapp Records Various LP
At Home With That Other Family Roulette Records Cosmonaut's Wife, Telephone Operator, Reporter
1970 The Golden Age Of Comedy; 50 Years Of Great Humor, From Vaudville To Video Longines Symphonette Society Various 5xLP Box Set
Ben Bagley's Vernon Duke Revisited Crewe Records/RCA Victor Tracks 5 & 8 LP, CD
ca. 70s The Comedians Jericho Marketing Corp. Side 1, Track 2 LP
1974 Zingers From The Hollywood Squares Event Records Side B, Track 4 "Divorce" Book, LP, 8-Track, CD
The Bitter End Years Roxbury Records Side D, Track 2 "First Four Minutes: Live" 3xLP Box Set
1986 Kings Of Comedy: The Best Of The Contemporary Comedians K-Tel Records Side A, Tracks 2 & 5 LP
1990 The Best of Comic Relief '90 Rhino Entertainment Track 5 CD, Cassette, VHS
1991 The Sullivan Years: Comedy Classics TVT Records Track 2 LP, Cassette, CD
1995 Word Of Mouth: The Very Best Of Comedy Speaking Books Ltd. Side 2, Track 6 2xCassette
2000 The Second City: Backstage at the World's Greatest Comedy Theater Sourcebooks MediaFusion Disc 1, Track 4 "Our Children" Book & 2xCD
2005 The Ed Sullivan Show: A Classic Christmas Ventura/SOFA Home Entertainment Chapter 19 "Holiday Calendar" DVD
2010 Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Just For Laughs Highbridge Company/NPR Disc 3, Track 3 Interview 3xCD, Digital
2011 The Rolling Stones: 4 Ed Sullivan Shows SOFA Home Entertainment Disc 2, Track 6 "Comedienne" 2xDVD
2014 The Midnight Special StarVista Entertainment Disc 9, "Comedy Routines" 11xDVD Box Set

[187]

AudiobooksEdit

All authored and read by Joan Rivers, except where noted.

Year Title Notes Publisher Reference Formats
1986 Enter Talking with Richard Meryman Dove Entertainment / Phoenix Books ASIN B00S00SSBU Cassette, Digital
1987 Murder on the Aisle: The 1987 Mystery Writers of America Anthology Narrator only ASIN B074QWM7TD
1991 Still Talking with Richard Meryman ASIN B01K3J268G
1993 Carnival of the Animals Narrator only ASIN B074QTYMFM
1998 The Emperor's New Clothes: An All-Star Illustrated Retelling of the Classic Fairy Tale Harcourt Brace & Company Audioworks ISBN 978-0671043933
2008 Men Are Stupid . . . And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery with Valerie Frankel Simon & Schuster Audio ISBN 978-0743581509 CD, Digital
2009 New Treasury of Great Humorists Narrator only Phoenix Books ASIN B002QUL4UW Digital
Murder in America ASIN B002E04DH0
2012 I Hate Everyone...Starting with Me Unabridged Penguin Audio ISBN 978-1611760651 CD, Digital
2014 Diary of a Mad Diva Grammy winner ISBN 978-1611764055
2015 The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation Read by author Melissa Rivers Random House Audio ASIN B00UKDY6FW
2016 Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers Author Leslie Bennetts, Read by Erin Bennett Hachette Audio ASIN B01M279XBK

[188]

DocumentaryEdit

Year Title Studio Formats
2010 Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work IFC Independent Films DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming

Stand-up comedy specialsEdit

Year Title Studio Formats
1984 An Audience With Joan Rivers Channel 4 Broadcast, DVD 2006
1992 Abroad In London Showtime, Paramount Video Broadcast, VHS 1995
2004 Live At the Apollo BBC Broadcast, Streaming
2005 (Still A) Live at the London Palladium (Allegedly) Standing Room Only DVD, Streaming
2006 An Audience With Joan Rivers ITV Broadcast, DVD
Before Melissa Pulls the Plug Bravo! Broadcast, Streaming
2012 Don't Start With Me Showtime, Entertainment One Broadcast, DVD/Blu-ray 2013, Streaming

[189]

Sketch/Tribute specialsEdit

Year Title Studio Formats
1985 Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abromowitz Showtime Broadcast, VHS
1996 Shopping for Fitness ABC Video VHS
2009 Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers Comedy Central Broadcast, Streaming
2016 Joan Rivers - Exit Laughing Gotham Comedy Club

[190]

FilmographyEdit

 
Rivers' first onscreen credit, in the obscure Hootenanny a Go-Go a.k.a. Once Upon a Coffeehouse (1965)

FilmsEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1951 Mister Universe Teenage Girl in Audience (uncredited) Cameo
1965 Hootenanny a Go-Go aka Once Upon a Coffee House[191] Herself As folk singing trio "Jim, Jake and Joan"
1968 The Swimmer Joan Cameo
1978 Rabbit Test Second nurse (cameo) Director and writer
1981 Uncle Scam[192] Herself
1984 The Muppets Take Manhattan Perfume Saleswoman Cameo
1987 Les Patterson Saves the World President Rivers (uncredited)
Spaceballs Dot Matrix Voice role
1989 Look Who's Talking Julie (uncredited)
1993 Public Enemy #2[193] Herself Cameo
1994 Serial Mom
1995 Napoleon Mother Penguin Voice role
1997 KnitWits Becky Voice role (animated short)
1999 Goosed Mom / Blanche
2000 The Intern Dolly Bellows
Whispers: An Elephant's Tale[193] Spike Voice role
2002 Hip! Edgy! Quirky! Floressa
2004 Shrek 2 Herself Voice role
First Daughter Cameo
2009 The Hipsters Floressa Malone
2010 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Herself (uncredited) Cameo
2011 The Smurfs Party Guest
Tower Heist Herself (uncredited)[194]
Growing Up Barnard Herself (short film)
TMI with Joan Rivers Herself Funny or Die short
2013 Iron Man 3 Herself Cameo
2014 Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? Grandma Doyle Final acting role

Documentary appearancesEdit

Year Title Director Synopsis
1990 The World of Jewish Humor Rex Bloomstein Comedy profile featuring comedians such as Mort Sahl, Billy Crystal and Milton Berle.
2002 The Making and Meaning of We Are Family Danny Schechter Nile Rodgers' re-making of the classic hit song in support of the victims of the September 11 attacks and creating the We Are Family Foundation.
2005 Spaceballs: The Documentary Mel Brooks (original film) Making of feature and profile from the Spaceballs Special Edition DVD featuring interviews with Mel Brooks and Bill Pullman.
John Candy: Comic Spirit
2007 Making Trouble Rachel Talbot Comedy profile featuring comedians such as Judy Gold, Gilda Radner and Martin Short.
Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project John Landis Comedy profile featuring comedians such as Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Richard Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Roseanne Barr, Kathy Griffin, Christopher Guest and featuring appearances by Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Harry Dean Stanton and Martin Scorsese.
2008 Every Little Step Adam Del Deo, James D. Stern (uncredited) Profile of the Broadway revival of "A Chorus Line".
2009 What's the Name of the Dame? Allan Neuwirth Profile of 9 top drag divas and their love for ABBA!
2013 Why We Laugh: Funny Women Bernard Gourley (Narrator, Executive Producer) Showtime comedy profile featuring comedians such as Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Griffin, Judy Gold, Lily Tomlin, Aisha Tyler, Janeane Garofalo and Tig Notaro.
Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You Whoopi Goldberg Profile of the legendary African-American stand-up comedienne, real name: Loretta Mary Aiken.
Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's Matthew Miele Fashion profile of the legendary Manhattan department store.
2014 Women Aren't Funny Bonnie McFarlane Comedy profile featuring comedians such as Maria Bamford, Sarah Silverman, Judy Gold, Lisa Lampanelli, Chelsea Peretti, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes.
The Story of The Swimmer Chris Innis About the making of the cult film starring Burt Lancaster.
Where the Sun Kisses the Ocean Rainbeau Mars Poetry.
2016 Love, Sweat and Tears Scott Jacobs Women on a mission to de-stigmatize menopause and start the "Menopause Romance Revolution."

[195]

TelevisionEdit

SeriesEdit

Year Title Role/Notes Episodes
1973 Here's Lucy Joan Reynolds (Juror) Season 6 - Ep. 9 - "Lucy and Joan Rivers Do Jury Duty"
Needles and Pins Eleanor Karp Season 1 - Ep. 8 - "The Wife You Save May Be Your Own"
1978 Husbands, Wives & Lovers Creator/Writer 1 Season, 10 Eps.
America 2-Night Herself, talk-show parody Season 1 - Ep. 57
1983 The Love Boat Allison Newman Season 6 - Ep. 17 - "Gopher's Daisy/Our Son, the Lawyer/Salvaged Romance"
1987 The Dame Edna Experience Herself, talk-show parody Season 1 - Ep. 2
1988 Offshore Television Herself 1 Season, 1 Ep.
1990 227 Season 5 - Ep. 20: "You Gotta Have Art"
1997 Another World Meredith Dunston (publicist for a political candidate) Episode 8374
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Joan (voice), additional material writer Season 3 - Ep. 9: "Studio Guy"
1998–99 Suddenly Susan Edie Season 2 - Eps. 25 and 26 / Season 3 - Ep. 16
2002 Curb Your Enthusiasm Herself Season 3 - Ep. 2: "The Benadryl Brownie"
2004 I'm with Her Season 1 - Eps. 15 and 16
Dave the Barbarian Zonthara - Empress of Evil (voice) Season 1 - Eps. 3, 16 and 20
2004–05, 2010 Nip/Tuck Herself Season 2 - Ep. 16, Season 3 - Ep. 7 and Season 6 - Ep. 17
2005 Less than Perfect Louise Season 3 - Ep. 18: "Pre-Wedded Bliss"
2006 Boston Legal Herself Season 3 - Ep. 5: "Whose God Is It Anyway?"
2008–09 Z Rock Herself - Aunt Joan (Dina's) Season 1 - Eps. 1, 5, 8, 9 and 10; Season 2 - Ep. 20
Spaceballs: The Animated Series Dot Matrix (voice) 1 Season, 11 Eps.
2008, 2010 Arthur Bubbe (Francine's Grandmother) / Camel (voice) Season 12 - Ep. 1 and Season 14 - Ep. 18
2011 Louie Herself Season 2, Ep. 4 - "Joan"
The Simpsons Annie Dubinsky (voice) Season 23, Ep. 8 - "The Ten-Per-Cent Solution"
2012 Drop Dead Diva[196] Herself Season 4 - Ep. 6: "Rigged" and Ep. 9 "Ashes to Ashes"
Hot in Cleveland Anka Season 3 - Ep. 19 - "Bye George, I Think He's Got It!" and Ep. 21 "Some Like it Hot"

Stand-up comedy seriesEdit

Year Title Episodes/Role Network
1984

2006

An Audience with... Joan Rivers ITV
2004 Just for Laughs 21 March 2004 / Performer RTE
2004

2007

Jack Dee Live at the Apollo Pilot / Featured Performer

Season 3, Episode 5 / Guest Host

BBC One

Documentary seriesEdit

Year Title Episode Network
1993 Intimate Portrait "Joan Rivers" (Available on VHS) Lifetime
Biography "Vincent Price" A&E
1997 "Fabulous World of Fabergé"
1998 "Roddy McDowall: Hollywood's Best Friend"
1999 The Hollywood Fashion Machine "Hollywood Rocks" American Movie Classics
Heroes of Comedy "Barry Humphries" Channel 4
2000 Intimate Portrait "Judy Collins" Lifetime
Biography "Phyllis Diller" A&E
The Talk Show Story 2 Part Series BBC
E! Mysteries and Scandals Hedy Lamarr E!
2001 Vincent Price
The Human Face "Beauty" BBC
E! True Hollywood Story Joan Rivers Parody aired April 1[197] E!
2002 Heroes of Black Comedy "Whoopi Goldberg" Channel 4/Comedy Central
"Richard Pryor"
Hollywood Greats "Burt Lancaster" BBC
E! News Live "September 20th" E!
Biography "Bio's 15 Sexiest" A&E
The South Bank Show "Joan Rivers" Bravo!/ITV
2003 E! True Hollywood Story "Richard Pryor" E!
"Hollywood Squares"
Heroes of Jewish Comedy 5 episodes Channel 4/Comedy Central
When I Was a Girl "Singers" We TV
2005 Favouritism "Julian Clary's Showbiz Hissy Fits" Channel 4
2006 Dawn French's Girls Who Do Comedy 3 Part Series / Full Interview BBC
The Story of Light Entertainment 3 episodes
Dawn French's More Girls Who Do Comedy 1 episode
2007 E! True Hollywood Story "Kathy Griffin" E!
2012 E! True Hollywood Story "Joan and Melissa Rivers" E!

Television moviesEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1973 The Girl Most Likely to... Writer of story/teleplay ABC Movie of the Week starring Stockard Channing, MGM DVD 2005
1977 Husbands and Wives Writer Spin-off TV series followed
1985 Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abromowitz Host / Writer Showtime sketch comedy
1990 How to Murder a Millionaire Irma Starred with Morgan Fairchild
1992 Lady Boss Bibi Grant Based on book by Jackie Collins
1994 Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story[198] Herself Biographical teleplay about her and daughter Melissa Rivers
1999 KnitWits Revisited Becky (voice) Animated

Stand-up comedy specialsEdit

Year Title Role/Notes
1978 Bernard Manning in Las Vegas Cameo (UK)
1981 Lily: Sold Out Cameo (CBS)
1984 Johnny Carson Presents the Tonight Show Comedians Performer (also featuring Bill Cosby, Steve Martin and Steven Wright)
Garry Shandling: Alone in Vegas Cameo (Showtime)
1990 Comic Relief IV Performer (Comic Relief, Inc. HBO charity benefit)
1992 Joan Rivers: Abroad In London Star–Writer–Producer (Showtime)
1994 The Annual Friars Club Tribute Presents a Salute to Barbara Walters Roaster (Roast of the legend)
2002 Just for Laughs Performer (stand-up festival doc with many comedians)
2006 Joan Rivers: Before Melissa Pulls the Plug Star–Writer (with comic Jeremy Blaine and publicist Jordan Roberts)
2012 Joan Rivers: Don't Start With Me Star–Writer–Producer (Showtime)

DocumentariesEdit

Year Title Notes Network
2002 Cleavage Narrated by Carmen Electra A&E
2003 100 Greatest Sexy Moments Narrated by Anna Chancellor Channel 4
The 100 Greatest Musicals Presenter Denise van Outen
2004 Funny Already: A History of Jewish Comedy Directed by Emma Cahusac
CMT: 40 Greatest Done Me Wrong Songs Writer CMT
Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde Quote BBC/RTE
2005 The Comedians' Comedian Presenter Jimmy Carr Channel 4
Britain's 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches Narrator Tom Baker
50 Questions of Political Incorrectness Presenter Clive Anderson Sky UK
2006 The 50 Greatest Comedy Films Narrator Stephen Fry Channel 4
The Electric Company's Greatest Hits & Bits DVD 2007 PBS
2013 Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley Interviewee[193] HBO

Talk showsEdit

Year Title Roles/Notes Episodes
1965–86 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Guest–Host–Writer 223
1965 The Jack Paar Program Guest 1
1965–67 Girl Talk with Virginia Graham 5
1965–78 The Mike Douglas Show Co-host–Guest 36
1968 Frost on Sunday Guest 1
1968–69 That Show starring Joan Rivers Host 71
1968–72 The Dick Cavett Show (ABC) Guest 4
1969–72 The David Frost Show 3
1970 The Irv Kupcinet Show 1
1974 The Merv Griffin Show 1
1974–76 Dinah! 2
1978 The Bob Braun Show 1
The Joe Franklin Show 1
1978, 1990 Donahue 2
1981–87 Hour Magazine 8
1982 The Regis Philbin Show 1
The Barbara Walters Special 1
1984 Wogan 2
1985 America (CBS) 1
1986 Joan Rivers: Can We Talk? Host 6
Late Night with David Letterman Guest 1
1986–87 The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers Host–Writer (first season) 150
1987 Aspel & Company Guest 1
1989 The Byron Allen Show Guest (pilot episode) 1
The Arsenio Hall Show Guest 2
1989–91 CBS This Morning 3
1989–93 The Joan Rivers Show Host–Writer 600
1990 Geraldo Guest 1
1990–92 The Howard Stern Show (WWOR) 3
1991 The Full Wax 1
Alan King: Inside the Comedy Mind 1
The Dick Cavett Show (PBS) 1
Tonight with Jonathan Ross 1
1993 The Howard Stern Interview 1
1994 Des O'Connor Tonight 1
1994–2004 Howard Stern 14
1995 Clive Anderson Talks Back 1
1995–2005 Late Night with Conan O'Brien 4
1995–2014 Can We Shop? Host (QVC style shopping in a talk show format)
1996 The Daily Show Guest 1
1997 The Rosie O'Donnell Show 1
1997, 2010 Charlie Rose 2
1999 Linehan 1
The Howard Stern Radio Show 1
2000 So Graham Norton 1
2002 V Graham Norton 2
2003 The Wayne Brady Show 1
2004 NY Graham Norton 1
Film 2004 with Jonathan Ross 1
Alf's Hit Talk Show Cameo Pilot
The Graham Norton Effect Guest 1
2004–06 The Joan Rivers Position Host–Writer 18
2005 Nigella Guest 1
The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch Guest 1
Good Day Live Guest 1
The Late Late Show Guest 1
Distinguished Artists 1
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross 1
The Paul O'Grady Show 1
2005-06 The Tony Danza Show 3
2006 Tom Green Live! Guest (voice) 1
Straight Talk Host–Writer (Bravo! pilot) 1
2008 Shrink Rap Guest (with host Dr. Pamela Connolly) 1
2010–14 Fashion Police Host 286
2013–14 In Bed with Joan Host–Writer–Executive producer 72

Variety showsEdit

Year Title Role Episodes
1966 The Sammy Davis Jr. Show Guest - Comedienne 1
The Hollywood Palace 1
1966–70 The Ed Sullivan Show Guest–Comedienne 18
1968 The Kraft Music Hall Guest–Comedienne 3
Operation: Entertainment 1
1970–75 The Carol Burnett Show 3
1971 The Jim Nabors Hour 1
The Pearl Bailey Show 1
1971–73 The Flip Wilson Show 3
1972 Dean Martin Presents: The Bobby Darin Amusement Co. 1
1972–76 The Electric Company Narrator (voice; The Adventures of Letterman segment) 60
1973 Stand Up and Cheer Guest–Comedienne 1
The Helen Reddy Show 1
1975 Sammy and Company 1
1978 The Jim Nabors Show 1
1979 Bonkers! 1
1983 Saturday Night Live Host–Writer 1
On Stage America Guest–Comedienne 1
Live... And in Person 1
1983–86 The Bob Monkhouse Show 2
1989–92 Sesame Street Narrator (voice; The Adventures of Letterman segment) 3
1990–91 Shalom Sesame Microphone (voice)

Herself

"Chanukah"

"The Aleph-Bet Telethon"

1991 Square One Television Herself 1

Variety/Tribute specialsEdit

Year Title Role/Notes
1973 The Shape of Things Variety special featuring Phyllis Diller, Brenda Vaccaro, Valerie Harper, Lynn Redgrave and directed by Lee Grant.
1977 Happy Birthday, Las Vegas Variety special hosted by Don Meredith and Cindy Williams, featuring Rodney Dangerfield, Redd Foxx and David Brenner.
1978 ABC Presents Tomorrow's Stars Talent contest hosted by John Ritter, featuring Charles Nelson Reilly, Norm Crosby and Dick Van Patten.
Hollywood's Diamond Jubilee Historical variety special hosted by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Raquel Welch, featuring Woody Allen, Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando and Bette Davis.
1979 The 3th Annual People's Command Performance Variety special featuring Chubby Checker, Lainie Kazan, Jerry Lewis, Vincent Price and Rod Stewart.
1980 Circus of the Stars #5 Circus-acts variety special featuring Lloyd Bridges, Angela Lansbury, Rock Hudson and Valerie Perrine.
1985 Moving Image Salutes Sidney Lumet An honor celebrating the film director.
1986 George Burns' 90th Birthday Party: A Very Special Special Celebration of the legendary comedian.
WrestleMania 2 Second Pay-per-view WWF WrestleMania event.
NBC 60th Anniversary Celebration Unveiling of new peacock logo featuring Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Sid Caesar, Ted Danson, The Monkees, Betty White and The Cosby Show kids.
1988 Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special[193] Herself
1989 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
1990 Happy Birthday, Bugs!: 50 Looney Years Bugs Bunny celebration special.
Night of 100 Stars III Performer, charity benefit for the Actors Fund of America.
1992 Alistair Cooke Salute A tribute hosted by Peter Ustinov, airing shortly after Cooke's last appearance as the 22-year host of "Masterpiece Theatre."
1995 The Beatles: All Together Now Celebrities recall their earliest and fondest memories of the Beatles. Premiere of Free as a Bird music video to promote The Beatles Anthology.
1996 The Royal Variety Performance Annual Royal Variety Charity benefit.
Disney's Most Unlikely Heroes Hosted by Roy E. Disney.
1997 50 Years of Television: A Celebration of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Golden Anniversary Herself
2002 Stars: An Oscar's Party
2003 100 Years of Hope and Humor Birthday celebration of the comedy legend.
2004 The Best of 'So Graham Norton' DVD Special
Bob Monkhouse: A BAFTA Tribute Celebration of Britain's King of Comedy
2005 The Royal Wedding of HRH the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles Live broadcast coverage of the event
2014 Howard Stern Birthday Bash Sirius XM Special

Award showsEdit

Year Title Role/Notes
1976 The Second Annual Comedy Awards Attendee
1983 The 35th Primetime Emmy Awards Hostess & Presenter
1984 The 26th Annual Grammy Awards Nominee – Best Comedy Album
1986 The 38th Primetime Emmy Awards Presenter
1987 The 39th Primetime Emmy Awards
1990 The 44th Tony Awards Presenter: Best Scenic, Costume & Lighting Design
The Horror Hall of Fame Herself / Skit
1992 The 6th Annual American Comedy Awards Nominee – Funniest Female Performer in a Television Special
1994 The 48th Tony Awards Nominee – Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
1995–2004 E! Live from the Red Carpet Hostess
1998 The 50th Primetime Emmy Awards Attendee
1999 The 51st Primetime Emmy Awards
2005 Joan & Melissa: Live at the Golden Globes Hostess for the TV Guide Channel Red carpet events
Joan & Melissa: Live at the Grammys
Joan & Melissa: Live at the Academy Awards
Joan & Melissa: Live at the CMA Awards
2006 Joan & Melissa: Live at the Academy Awards
Academy Awards Fashion Wrap with Joan and Melissa
Joan & Melissa: Live at the Emmys
Emmy Awards Fashion Wrap with Joan and Melissa
The 58th Primetime Emmy Awards Attendee

Reality television showsEdit

Year Title Role
1960

1965

Candid Camera Writer (4 episodes)

Herself / "Bait"

1979 Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes 4 Bicycle racer
2003 I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! Herself
2008 Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack Celebrity hijacker
2009 Celebrity Ghost Stories Storyteller
Celebrity Apprentice 2 Winner
2009–2010 How'd You Get So Rich? Host (10 episodes)
2010 Celebrity Apprentice 3 Boardroom Advisor
2011–14 Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? Executive producer
2013 Celebrity Apprentice 6 Boardroom advisor
2015 Celebrity Apprentice 7 Boardroom advisor

Game showsEdit

Year Title Host Role Episodes
1965–68 The Match Game Gene Rayburn Team Captain 25
1967–69 Personality Larry Blyden Contestant 6
1969 You're Putting Me On 3
1970 The Movie Game 1
Concentration Bob Clayton 1
1970–80 The Hollywood Squares (Daytime version) Peter Marshall Panelist 80
1971 Can You Top This? Wink Martindale Contestant 1
1971–81 The Hollywood Squares (Syndicated version) Peter Marshall Panelist Semi-regular
1973 The $10,000 Pyramid Dick Clark Celebrity contestant 1
1975 The Magnificent Marble Machine Art James Contestant 2
1987–89 The New Hollywood Squares John Davidson Center square 66
1997 Noel's House Party Noel Edmonds Celebrity contestant Noel's New York House Party special
1999–2004 Hollywood Squares Tom Bergeron Panelist 65
2004 Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Ant & Dec Celebrity guest 1
2006–07 8 Out of 10 Cats Jimmy Carr Contestant 3
2008 Celebrity Family Feud Al Roker Ice-T vs. Joan & Melissa Rivers

[190]

Theater workEdit

Year Show Role/Credit Venue
1965 The Game is Up Material writer Downstairs at the Upstairs,[199] Off-Broadway
1972 Fun City Jill Fairchild, original play written and performed Morosco Theatre,[200] Broadway
1988 Broadway Bound Kate, replacement performer Broadhurst Theatre,[201] Broadway
1994 Sally Marr...and her escorts Sally Marr, original play written and performed Helen Hayes Theatre, Broadway
2002–04 Joan Rivers: Broke and Alone Tour Herself, original material written and performed US and UK tour[202]
2008 Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress Geffen Playhouse, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Leicester Square Theatre
2012 Joan Rivers: The Now or Never Tour UK tour

[203]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
1984 What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most? Grammy Award Best Comedy Album Nominated
Career Hasty Pudding Theatricals, USA Woman of the Year Won
1990 The Joan Rivers Show Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Talk Show Host Won
1991 Nominated
1992 Outstanding Writing – Special Class Nominated
Outstanding Talk Show Host Nominated
1993 Outstanding Writing – Special Class Nominated
Outstanding Talk Show Host Nominated
1994 Sally Marr...and her escorts Tony Award Best Actress in a Play Nominated
2009 Arthur Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Nominated
2010 The Hipsters Maverick Movie Award Best Supporting Actress: Feature Nominated
2011 Career Alliance of Women Film Journalists EDA Female Focus - Perseverance Award Won
Fashion Police WIN Award Actress - Comedy Series Nominated
2014 Fashion Police: episode "September Issue" Nominated
Iron Man 3 MTV Movie Award Best Cameo Nominated
2015 Diary of a Mad Diva Grammy Award Best Spoken Word Album Won

[204]

Note: Emmy nominations for Outstanding Writing – Special Class shared with Toem Perew and Hester Mundis.

HonorsEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ "Melissa Rivers reveals she scattered mom Joan Rivers' ashes in Wyoming". 
  2. ^ Shalom Goldman, July 9, 2014 "Joan Rivers", ENCYCLOPEDIA
  3. ^ a b c d e Debra Nussbaum Cohen, July 9, 2014 "Joan Rivers Women in Comedy"
  4. ^ a b Emily Langer, September 4, 2014 "Joan Rivers, Comedian Who Skewered Everyone Including Herself, Dies" The Washington Post
  5. ^ "Joan Rivers: In pictures". BBC News. 
  6. ^ DAVID HINCKLEY, September 4, 2014 "Joan Rivers Blazed a Trail for Female Comics" New York Daily News
  7. ^ Daniel Arkin. "Joan Rivers Remembered by Stand-Up Comics, TV Legends". NBC News. 
  8. ^ a b Todd Leopold, CNN (September 4, 2014). "Joan Rivers, a pointed, pioneering comedian, dead at 81 - CNN.com". CNN. 
  9. ^ Chris Hardwick (May 9, 2015). "Greg Proops #4". The Nerdist Podcast (Podcast). Nerdist Industries. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  10. ^ Goldman, Shalom. "Joan Rivers". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  11. ^ Joan Rivers' Greatest Red Carpet Moments. ABC News. September 5, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  12. ^ "How Joan Rivers Changed the Red Carpet Interview Forever With One Simple Question: Watch Her Best Moments!". E!. September 4, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  13. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (February 8, 2015). "Joan Rivers wins a Grammy". USA TODAY. 
  14. ^ Sieczkowski, Cavan (September 5, 2014). "Joan Rivers Honors Robin Williams In Resurfaced Interview". Huffington Post. Playboy: Jack Gould, former television critic of The New York Times, called you "quite possibly the most intuitively funny woman alive." So whom does America's most intuitively funny woman find funny? 
  15. ^ Gould, Jack (October 3, 1968). "TV: Frank and Mature Discussion of Birth Control; Contraceptive Devices Displayed on Channel 4 Vivacious Joan Rivers Brightens Own Show". The New York Times. GOOD television often turns up at unexpected hours; it did from 9 to 10 A. M. yesterday on WNBC-TV (Channel 4). The first half was a major breakthrough in the educational use of the home screen—a totally frank and completely mature discussion of birth control. The second half hour offered Joan Rivers, quite possibly the most intuitively funny woman alive. 
  16. ^ The 50 Best Stand-up Comics of All Time. Rollingstone.com, retrieved February 22, 2017.
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  29. ^ Riley 1995, p. 265.
  30. ^ Sochen, June (1998). "From Sophie Tucker to Barbra Streisand: Jewish Women Entertainers as Reformers". Talking Back: Images of Jewish Women in American Popular Culture. Ed. Joyce Antler. Brandeis series in American Jewish history, culture, and life. Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press Published by University Press of New England. pp. 68–84.
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  52. ^ Editor (June 7, 1991). Los Angeles Student Film Institute: 13th Annual Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. p. 3. 
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  60. ^ Kurtz, Judy (September 4, 2014). "Gillibrand, Nancy Reagan mourn Joan Rivers' death". The Hill. Retrieved October 19, 2014. Rivers credited the former president's wife with helping her after the 1987 suicide of her husband, Edgar Rosenberg. The comedy queen recalled the conversation with Reagan in a 2010 interview, "I said, 'I can't get Edgar's body out of Philadelphia.' She said, 'Let me see what I can do.' The next day, his body came back to L.A. You don't ever forget that, especially when the chips are down." 
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    Von Drehle, David (June 12, 2004). "Reagan Hailed as Leader for 'the Ages'". Washington Post. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
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