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Joan Rivers

Joan RiversAKA Joan Alexandra Molinsky

Born: 8-Jun-1933
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 4-Sep-2014
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: Complications of Surgery
Remains: Cremated (ashes scattered in Wyoming)

Gender: Female
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Comic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Can we talk?

Joan Rivers was a comedian famous for her fast, self-mocking, bitchy patter, her raspy voice, and her borderline offensive material. Her parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia who settled in Brooklyn. After college, Rivers worked as a shoe buyer for Lord & Taylor, a then-upscale clothier, and later for Bonds, another shop where she married the son of the vice president. They were divorced six months later.

Rivers was doing comedy on the side, and performed briefly with Chicago's Second City, but mostly she did stand-up in coffee shops, gay bars, and dives. In the mid-1960s she wrote and performed for Candid Camera, and she still says that show's host Allen Funt was "not a very nice man". Like many of the best comedians or her generation, Rivers' career took off with an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. The crowds at her shows were immediately larger, and she soon met and married Edgar Rosenberg, a TV executive. References to Edgar became part of her routine. In 1968, she had a bit part in Burt Lancaster's odd midlife crisis classic The Swimmer. Also in 1968, her daughter and eventual co-star Melissa Rivers was born. In 1969, Rivers got her first TV talk show, a syndicated half-hour called That Show, which didn't last long.

In 1983, after dozens of appearances on Tonight, she became Carson's "permanent guest host", filling in once every third week. In 1986, though, she infuriated Carson by jumping to the upstart Fox network for The Late Show starring Joan Rivers -- aired opposite Tonight. From its first broadcast, Rivers' Late Show ratings were better than anyone had done against Carson in years -- but still nowhere near his numbers, and not good enough for the executives at Fox. They started meddling behind the scenes, with Fox honcho Rupert Murdoch aggravating her husband/producer Rosenberg and vice versa. Finally, Murdoch gave Rivers an ultimatum: Lose Rosenberg or lose your show. Rivers lost both the show and the husband. She was fired, and Rosenberg had a nervous breakdown and overdosed on Valium the next summer. The show limped on for seven months with a succession of uninteresting hosts, as Rivers grieved publicly but kept herself busy.

The Joan Rivers Show, a new syndicated daytime talk show, started in 1989 and lasted four years. Rivers made a soapy tearjerker out of her husband's suicide in the 1994 TV movie Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story, starring Joan and Melissa Rivers as themselves. In later years she did lots of cartoon voice work, reportedly made millions pitching fake jewelry on QVC, and became a bitchy fashion co-critic, along with Melissa, at the Oscars and other show biz awards shows.

Father: Meyer Molinsky
Mother: Beatrice Grushman
Husband: James Sanger (m. 1957, div. 1958)
Husband: Edgar Rosenberg (b. 1925, m. 15-Jul-1965, d. 14-Aug-1987 suicide, one daughter)
Daughter: Melissa Rivers (TV personality, b. 20-Jan-1968)
Boyfriend: Orin Lehman (millionaire)

    University: Connecticut College (attended 1950-52)
    University: BA English and Anthropology, Barnard College (1954)

    Sigma Delta Tau Sorority
    Endorsement of Arby's (2006)
    Endorsement of GEICO (2007)
    Endorsement of Go Daddy internet services (2011)
    Hollywood Walk of Fame 7000 Hollywood Blvd. (television)
    Emmy 1990 (outstanding talk show host)
    Miscarriage twice
    Liposuction 14-Aug-1987
    Surgery Vocal cord repair (28-Aug-2014)
    Heart Attack (28-Aug-2014)
    Coma Medically-induced, after surgical complications (28-Aug-2014)
    Issued Concealed Carry Permit New York City
    Second City (1959-60)
    Funeral: Ronald Reagan (2004)
    Wedding: Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky (2008)
    Russian Ancestry
    Jewish Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Bulimia, Depression, Marijuana

    The Apprentice Winner (2009)
    The Joan Rivers Position Host (2004-06)
    The Joan Rivers Show Host (1989-93)
    The Electric Company Narrator, The Adventures of Letterman (1972-76)

    Rabbit Test (9-Apr-1978)

    Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (Jan-2018) · Herself
    Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's (3-May-2013) · Herself
    Iron Man 3 (18-Apr-2013) · Herself
    Joan Rivers: Don't Start with Me (15-Nov-2012) · Herself
    The Smurfs (28-Jul-2011) · Party Guest
    Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (25-Jan-2010) · Herself
    Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (13-Oct-2007) · Herself
    First Daughter (24-Sep-2004) · Herself
    Shrek 2 (15-May-2004) · Herself [VOICE]
    Whispers: An Elephant's Tale (10-Mar-2000) [VOICE]
    The Intern (21-Jan-2000) · Dolly Bellows
    Goosed (28-Sep-1999)
    Serial Mom (13-Apr-1994) · Herself
    Christmas at Pee Wee's Playhouse (1988) · Herself
    Spaceballs (24-Jun-1987) · Dot Matrix [VOICE]
    The Muppets Take Manhattan (13-Jul-1984) · Cameo Guest Star
    Rabbit Test (9-Apr-1978)
    The Swimmer (15-May-1968)

Official Website:

Author of books:
Having a Baby Can Be a Scream (1985)
Enter Talking (1987, memoir, with Richard Meryman)
Still Talking (1991, memoir, with Richard Meryman)
From Mother to Daughter: Thoughts and Advice on Life, Love, and Marriage‎ (1998)
Men Are Stupid, And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery (2008, with Valerie Frankel)
Murder at the Academy Awards: A Red Carpet Murder Mystery (2009, novel, with Jerrilyn Farmer)

Comedy albums:
What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most? (1983)

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