We lost a television icon today, Joan Rivers; she was 81-years-old. The comic died in a New York hospital Thursday afternoon, a week after suffering cardiac arrest during a medical procedure.
Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, whom we spoke to just one month ago, released this statement today:
“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother.
Cooper and I have found ourselves humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and prayers we have received from around the world. They have been heard and appreciated.
My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.”
To honor the funny lady we’re taking a look back on her comedic, and sometimes tragic, life.
Joan Alexandra Molinsky, better known by her stage name, Joan Rivers, was born on June 8th, 1933 to Russian immigrant parents. She was an actress, comedian, writer, producer, and television personality, but lately she’s been famously known for her co-hosting duties on E!’s Fashion Police, and her starring role in the reality series “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?”, alongside her daughter, Melissa Rivers.
Rivers’ comedy life began in the early 60’s when she performed in various clubs in New York City, before making her first appearance as a guest on the TV program The Tonight Show, hosted at the time by Jack Paar.
In 1965, Rivers was a comedy writer and actress on Candid Camera. She was the one that lured people into silly and hilarious situations for the show. She made her first appearance on The Tonight Show with new host, Johnny Carson, during that same year, and a friendship blossomed. She also married her second husband, Edgar Rosenberg, but tragically he committed suicide in 1987. They had one child, Melissa Warburg Rosenberg ( known as Melissa Rivers).
When Melissa spoke with Tinseltown Mom she talked about how her parents created the most normal life possible for her and that’s what’s kept her grounded. We also chatted about how well she and her mom worked together. “It’s a different dynamic when you have co-hosts who are related because I can react and say things and make expressions that anyone, if it wasn’t your parent, would consider rude… That familial dynamic is just so different. Then you throw in the humor that our family has, and the rhythm that my mother and I are able to work off of each other.”
The humor that Joan Rivers possessed was quick-witted, brash and oftentimes offensive, but her unique style and sensibility is what kept her career going for so long. During the 60’s, the TV personality hosted a number of talk shows that didn’t last long, including a daytime talk show, That Show with Joan Rivers, in which Johnny Carson was her first guest.
Rivers appeared on various television comedy and variety shows, including The Carol Burnett Show and Hollywood Squares in the 1970’s.
In 1986, the funny mom debuted her own late night talk show on Fox, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, however this ended her friendship with longtime friend, and competition, Johnny Carson. Reportedly, Rivers was banned from ever appearing on the Late Show again, and didn’t come back until February 17th, 2014. The comic did not fare well on late night television, and a few years later she tried her hand at another daytime program, The Joan Rivers Show. This time she found success, and her show ran for five years and earned her an Emmy Award. During that time, she also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Lately, Rivers has been known for her reality show, “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?” The series follows Joan moving to California to be closer to her family, as she moves in with her daughter while searching for a home of her own. Since 2010, Rivers has also co-hosted the E! Entertainment show, Fashion Police, where she and her other co-hosts dish on celebrity fashion.
With the unforgettable laughs, fond memories, and a 50-year-old career, the comedian leaves behind a legacy that daughter, Melissa and grandson, Cooper will have no problem continuing. We were grateful that Melissa filled us in on what that family legacy is. “My son and I were talking about our family legacy, and the legacy is really the work ethic. And that’s what I really expect of him, no matter what career he goes into; it’s the work ethic. That’s the family legacy.”
Our prayers go out to those closest to Joan Rivers as they grieve during this difficult time.