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Joan Rivers (1933-2014)

Thursday, 04 September 2014 17:28

Joan Rivers, comedic icon, trailblazing talk show host, the first lady of sharp wit and even sharper tongue has died at 81.

Joan’s daughter Melissa announced that the comedy legend died this afternoon after going into cardiac arrest on Friday August 28th .

In recent years Rivers was best known for her skewering of celebrities from the red carpet on E!’s Fashion Police. Throughout her career she has remained true to her roots as a controversial and often off-colour commentator.

Joan Alexandra Rosenberg was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1933. Her parents were hard working Jewish immigrants from Russia. Her first love was English Literature and that love led her to writing for the TV program Candid Camera and later in her career Bob Newhart and Phyllis Diller.

Her sharp wit, blond locks and effervescent style of delivery made her a regular stand up on the Ed Sullivan Show in the 60’s. From there, she went on to the Carrol Burnett Show, Hollywood Squares and even hit the big screen. But her biggest break came in the 1980’s when Johnny Carson took her under his wing. Her stint on The Tonight Show led to her own show on Fox, which caused a lifelong feud with Johnny Carson.

The Fox show was a lead up to a difficult time in Joan’s personal life. Her husband and collaborator Edgar Rosenberg who produced her Fox talk show, was fired, soon after, he took his own life.

Joan Rivers often spoke about how comedy had “saved” her, so she persevered.  She hated to be called an icon or legend, but she was both of those things to young women making their way in comedy. Here was a successful comedian, who also raised a daughter and kept herself relevant in a male dominated field for over 5 decades.

Sarah Silverman and Kathy Griffith both well-known comedic voices, consider Joan Rivers the godmother of comedy.

Her death prompted an outpouring of grief and appreciation from comedians actors and fans.

Anna Kendrick tweeted, “ Being publicly told that my dress is hideous will never feel quite as awesome. You will be truly missed.”

TV writer and actress Lena Dunham also took to twitter, “watching Joan Rivers do standup at age 81 was incredible: athletic, jaw-dropping, terrifying, essential. It never stopped. Neither will she.”

Joan Rivers will go down in history as one of the best comedians of the 21st century and she holds that honour because she lived by her own code;

“I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking” – Joan Rivers

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