The great Joan Rivers passed away on September 4th. She was reportedly taken off life support after an endoscopic procedure went wrong, causing her to stop breathing and go into cardiac arrest. She was rushed to Mt. Sinai hospital in New York, where she spent her final days amongst friends and family in a private room. Joan was a superstar and did everything, from being a stand up comedienne, to a red carpet diva, to an author, to hocking her clothing and jewelry line on QVC and being co-host of The Fashion Police on the E! channel. After she passed away, her daughter Melissa made the following statement to the press:
It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1:17 PM 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.
When Joan entered heaven, we can only assume she told God to fire his stylist. Rest in peace, Joan. Here are ten things you didn’t know about the late legend.
10. Joan Rivers Wasn’t Her Real Name
As some may already know, Joan Rivers was born Joan Alexandra Molinsky, on June 8, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. So, how did she get her famous stage name? Her agent, Tony Rivers didn’t like her given name, so she stole his. Another fun fact: when she started doing stand up, Rivers used the stage name Pepper January.
9. She Kissed A Girl And She Liked It
In the late 1950’s, Joan was in an off-Broadway play, at a tiny 40-seat theater, acting in a play called Driftwood. Her character was a lesbian, which, as some may guess, was extremely controversial at the time. Her love interest? A then unknown actress/singer named Barbra Streisand.
8. She Was The Fashion Police, Even Before The TV Show
So, how did Joan become a fashion policewoman exactly? Prior to being a comedian, she had a career in fashion. Before she married her late husband, Edgar Rosenberg, she was married to James Sanger, who was the heir to the Bond Clothing store, where she was a buyer. The marriage lasted for only six months, but her love for fashion lasted for the rest of her life. Joan also worked at renown New York Department Store, Lord & Taylor. She also had her own collections on QVC for over 25 years, and made over $1 billion from it. She always knew being a successful billionaire never goes out of style.
7. Rivers Was The First Female Co-host of The Tonight Show
Johnny Carson gave Joan Rivers her start, and she was very grateful to him. She said “He was the first person in power who respected what I was doing and realized what I could become. He handed me my career. [But] our friendship existed entirely on-camera in front of America, and even then, during the commercial breaks, when the red light went off, we had nothing to say to each other.” Joan was named the permanent guest host of The Tonight Show and filled in for Johnny Carson, a grand total of 80 times.
6. Her Husband Committed Suicide
Her husband, Edgar Rosenberg committed suicide in 1987. They met in 1965, and were married four days after first meeting. Rosenberg was Joan’s manager and produced the ultimately cancelled talk show, The Late Show Staring Joan Rivers. Three years prior to his suicide, Rosenberg had a heart attack and had to take medication for his condition. It is believed the medication brought on his clinical depression. But, Rivers kept everything in stride, and had a sense of humor. Shortly after Edgar died, Joan and Melissa went to Wolfgang Puck’s chichi restaurant, Spago for dinner, and she said to her daughter “If Daddy were here and saw these prices, he’d kill himself all over again.”
5. …And She Made A Movie About It
In 1994, Joan and Melissa starred as themselves in the TV movie, Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story. The movie was ground-breaking and Joan said, “True grief, true mourning, what happens after a suicide, has never been honestly dealt with before.” So, why would she have taken on such a project? In order to help others. “It heals. The more you talk about anything, the better it is,” she said. The telefilm was true to life and even depicted the year long period when Joan and Melissa were estranged and did not speak to each other. However, it didn’t depict everything. Edgar himself is not portrayed on screen at all.
4. Even Her Final Days Were Fabulous
It was reported that, as Joan was passing in her private room, at Mt. Sinai hospital in New York City, although she wasn’t conscious, her daughter Melissa hired hair and makeup people to come in every day to make her mother look beautiful. Manicurists were even called in to paint her nails purple and her toenails green. Preston Bailey decorated Joan’s hospital room with bows, plants and flowers. The soundtrack to the Broadway show Oklahoma, played as Joan was made comfortable lying down on a Dennis Basso mink throw. Many family members and friends stopped by, including gossip columnist Cindy Adams and the president of E! Entertainment, where she co-hosted the hilarious show, Fashion Police.
3. She Loved Animals
Joan was a huge animal lover. Her dog, Spikem, even saved her life. In 1987, after her husband committed suicide, she was sitting in her house in Bel-Air, about to commit suicide. In an interview with the Daily Beast, she explained how Spike helped her get out of a horrible place:
I was sitting in this big empty house in Bel Air, with a phone with five extensions which we no longer needed. I had the gun in my lap, and the dog sat on the gun.
As Joan was dying in her hospital room, her dogs were brought over so they could snuggle up to her and say goodbye. She had four dogs total, all rescues, a Japanese Chin, a Havanese, a Jack Ruseell Terrier and a Border Collie.
2. Joan Was Also An Author
Joan wrote many bestselling books of various genres. The most recent one was released in July, titled, Diary of a Mad Diva. The other books she wrote were: I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me in 2012, Bouncing Back: I’ve Survived Everything … and I Mean Everything… And You Can Too in 2010, and in 2009, Rivers wrote Murder at the Academy Awards: A Red Carpet Murder Mystery, which was fiction. In 2008, she wrote Men Are Stupid . . . And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman’s Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery, which is a topic she knew a quite a bit about. Her other books were, Still Talking, Don’t Count the Candles: Just Keep the Fire Lit!, Enter Talking, From Mother to Daughter, Sweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts and Devilish Dish (which was a cookbook), The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz, Jewlery, and Having A Baby Can Be A Scream.
1. Although She Made Fun Of What Everyone Wore, Hollywood Loved Her
The entire world and especially the Twitterverse was up in arms about Joan’s death with #RIPJoanRivers on the top of the trending list. Here a few of the funniest tweets about the legendary lady:
RIP Joan Rivers. Being publicly told that my dress is hideous will never feel quite as awesome. You will be truly missed. –Anna Kendrick
Thanks for the laughs @Joan_Rivers ! The last woman to bed me! –Lance Bass (who was a guest on her webseries, In Bed With Joan)
Unapologetically offensive, kind, tough, complicated, irrepressible, supremely energetic…and above all, bloody funny. RIP Joan Rivers. – Piers Morgan
We have a gig in 2 weeks and I’m not doing it without you-YOU’RE BEING RIDICULOUS –Sarah Silverman