She was known for her acid one liners, for speaking her mind and not sparing anyone in her scathing comments. She was a stage actress, an author, a film director, a TV host, someone who created her own fashion line and over and above something that she will always be remembered for- comedy. A pioneer and trendsetter of this genre, she was outspoken, witty, fearless and unapologetic in her comedy.
However Joan Rivers did not like to be called a pioneer in her lifetime. She is once reported to have said, “I don’t like when the ladies come up and say, ‘Oh you broke barriers for women, I’m still breaking barriers, that’s starting with it, and I could still take you, sweetheart, with both hands tied behind my back … Am I proud to be a pioneer? I’m not a pioneer. I’m still in the trenches. I’m still breaking ground. I have never spent two minutes saying, ‘Well, I just did that.’ I’m still looking for the new frontier. I’m still in my astronaut suit.” She was a workaholic and work for her was the panacea for all ills.
“Fans got a sense of her work ethic in the documentary “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” which premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2010. The film, opens with an extreme close-up of Ms. Rivers’ face, without makeup.For a woman who openly boasted of her numerous plastic surgery procedures and prided herself on elegant clothes and perfect hair and makeup, it was a shocking moment of bravery. But as the film detailed her over-packed schedule, necessitating being on the road, and on planes, week in and week out, Ms. Rivers’ decision to bare her face for the film was not all that surprising.We learned from the film that work was adrenaline for the then-77-year-old comic. Colleagues on the E network, where she hosted the weekly “Fashion Police” since 2010, spoke in recent days about coming in to work midmorning and finding Ms. Rivers had already been on the job since 3 or 4 – after flying in from an event the previous night.” (David Wiegand, SFGATE).
In the words of Joan Rivers “If there’s a secret to being a comedian, it’s just loving what you do. It’s my drug of choice. I don’t need real drugs. I don’t need liquor. It’s the joy that I get performing. That’s my rush. I get it nowhere else.” Sadly this inimitable artist, a complete authority on comedy, always pulsating with life left this mortal world on 4th September 2014 at 81 years of age.
Ms Rivers suffered a cardiac arrest while undergoing a throat surgery of her vocal cords at a clinic in New York on 28 August. She was immediately taken to Mount Sinai hospital but never regained consciousness.
Joan Alexandra Molinsky was born in Brooklyn on June 8, 1933 to Russian immigrants, Meyer C. Molinsky, a physician, and his wife, Beatrice. She was the younger of their two daughters. Joan Rivers was her stage name. In her personal life Joan married James Sanger, the son of a Bond Clothing Stores merchandise manager in 1955. The marriage lasted six month and was annulled on the basis that Sanger did not want children and had not informed Rivers before the wedding. She remarried in 1965 and had a daughter Melissa Warburg Rosenberg (now known as Melissa Rivers) in 1968. Her second husband, the father of her daughter, Edgar Rosenberg committed suicide in 1987. Later Joan also had a grandson, Melissa’s son Cooper.
Professionally Joan started her career in the late 1950s performing in theater gigs and comedy shows in downtown Manhattan. She was signed for “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson whom she called her mentor, in 1965. That was actually when her career in television took off. She was an instant hit with the audience. However, Fox network offered her her own late-night show in 1986. The time of broadcast for this show and “The Tonight Show” of Carson happened to be the same. He famously never forgave her, and banned her from The Tonight Show. She did not appear on the show again even after his death for a long time until March this year.
Joan had been hosting an online talk show called In Bed with Joan, weekly. She had just completed filming a special award-show episode of E!’s Fashion Police before she was taken ill. She had also finished the fourth season of Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best, the reality show in which she starred with her daughter and her grandson also made an appearance on this show. Her other TV shows were The Carol Burnett Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, as well as performing live in New York and Las Vegas, and recording several comedy albums.Her co workers were Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, George Carlin and Woody Allen.
“A wildly energetic performer, as comfortable on stage as on screen, Rivers was still playing to huge, packed auditoriums such as London’s Albert Hall as recently as 2012, where, at the age of 79, she performed for 11 nights to sellout crowds and rapt applause.”(The Guardian).
Her daytime show, The Joan Rivers Show, won her a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host. As an actress, Rivers was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 1994 for her performance in the title role in Sally Marr…and her escorts.
She was the author of 12 best-selling memoir and humor books, and wrote comic material for stage and television. She also wrote the films The Girl Most Likely To… and Rabbit Test. In 1974 she released Having a Baby Can Be A Scream, the first of her 12 books including the best-selling The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz.
“What pleasure you feel when you’ve kept people happy for an hour and a half .They’ve forgotten their troubles. It’s great. There’s nothing like it in the world. When everybody’s laughing, it’s a party. And then you get a check at the end. That’s very nice,” she once remarked.
Rivers got popularity for hosting programmes that showcased live red-carpet arrivals of celebrities to awards functions. The first of them was in 1994 for the E! Entertainment Network, and she quickly became an entity at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, and the Grammys. She had a satirical style of humour and could easily needle and even put down any public figure by her acid wit and no holds barred attitude often focusing on their personal lives. In fact she was many a times criticized for the same but never changed herself.
She poked fun even at herself. Open about the surgeries she underwent to alter her looks, they became a target of her comedy.”I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die they’ll donate my body to Tupperware,” she once said
Rivers was also a philanthropist and HIV/AIDS activist. She donated to Jewish charities, animal welfare efforts, and suicide prevention causes. She was a supporter of God’s Love We Deliver, a non-profit organization which delivers meals to HIV/AIDS patients in New York City. She also supported the AIDS Health Foundation. In 2008, she was commended by the City of San Diego, California for her philanthropic work regarding HIV/AIDS. Additionally, she served as an Honorary Director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.She also supported Guide Dogs for the Blind, a non-profit organization which provides guide dogs to blind people.(wikipedia)
Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Handler, Lisa Lampanelli, Roseanne Barr, Kathy Griffin and Amy Schumer and many others working in the field of comedy have tried to learn something from Joan Rivers’ acts.
“My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that’s difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.”said Melissa Rivers after Joan’s death.
The E! network stated,”For decades, Joan has made people laugh, shattered glass ceilings, and revolutionised comedy. She was unapologetic and fiercely dedicated to entertaining all of us, and has left an indelible mark on the people that worked with her – and on her legions of fans.”
Joan Rivers lived her life with an untiring spirit and had a massive influence on American comedy. Her work will live after her forever and continue to regale people and make them laugh as she always wished in the times to come.
source – janpratinidhi