Remembering Joan Rivers, A Comedic Legend


The world got a little less funny yesterday as Joan Rivers made her transition. The caustic comedienne and host of E!’s Fashion Police passed away yesterday at the age of 81. As you know, she went into cardiac arrest during a routine procedure on her vocal cords last week, and never recovered.

Joan was the first really successful female in a field heavily populated by men. She first rose to fame as a frequent guest and guest host of Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.” Her signature catchphrase, “Can we talk?” was often the opening line for gossip-infested jokes. Even though Johnny made it clear that he wanted her to be his heir apparent at “The Tonight Show,” she ended up signing a deal to do a late-night show at Fox that almost killed her career.

Rivers reinvented herself after that setback by returning to the standup circuit. She also enlisted her only daughter, Melissa, to do red carpet hosting with her. They eventually grew their celebrity-skewering commentary on fashion into a cottage industry and a successful show, E!’s “Fashion Police.” In addition, Rivers was also a writer. At the time of her death, she was still promoting her book, “Diary of a Mad Diva.” She’s survived by Melissa and her grandson, Cooper.

Funeral services are planned for Sunday at New York City’s Temple Emanu-El. Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson said in statement that they would mourn with Joan’s family and “all those millions to whom she brought laughter and joy.”

To say that Joan Rivers was an iconic performer would be almost be an understatement. She influenced a generation of comics – male and female. E! paid homage to its biggest star by cutting into its syndicated programming yesterday as the news of her passing broke. E! News anchors, who shared the studio building with Rivers’ and her team on the show “Fashion Police,” were stunned to be reporting her death. Several network folks stopped by the share personal stories and memories of Joan and her daughter, Melissa.

Barbara Walters – No one loved life, laughter, and a good time more than Joan. We would have dinner and laugh and gossip and I always left the table smiling.   She was a brassy, often outrageous, and hilarious performer who made millions laugh.  In private, she was the picture of elegance and class.  I will miss her.

 

Geraldo Rivera – Saddened by the passing of dear friend Joan Rivers. She was a brilliant comic who made the world a happier place. Irreverent and energetic, she could make a sphinx laugh.

 

Louis C.K. – I feel very lucky that I knew Joan Rivers and I feel very sad that she’s gone.  She was a great comedian and a wonderful person.   I never saw someone attack a stage with so much energy.  She was a controlled lightning bolt.  She was a prolific and unpredictable, joyful joke writer.   She loved comedy.  She loved the audience.  She was a great actress and should have done that more.    She loved living and working.  She was kind.  She was real.  She was brave. She was funny and you just wanted to be around her.  I looked up to her.  I learned from her.  I loved her. I liked her.  And I already miss her very much.  It really f***ing sucks that she had to die all of a sudden.

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