When the the news got out , that she was in a delicate state but stable, some hope came thinking that she will recuparete from this, sadly as soon as heard that his daughter sayd that she was move to a more comftable room, it made me so sad for whatever reason. Anyways rest in peace Mrs Joan Rivers, she was my favorite in fashion police and her delivery on the jokes,always kept me wondering if some one will be react crazy... Heaven must be having a blast right now with Joan and Robin toguether.
Remembering Joan Rivers
Photo: Getty Images
In August 1965, Vogue published a six-page spread about thirteen bright young things who seemed to mark a new creative age. The magazine’s list of “youthquakers” included a boyishBill Cosby (“asparagus-slim, wry, a ribber in his twenties”), a baby-faced Zubin Mehta(“meteoric Indian maestro”), a 22-year-old Edie (or, rather, “Edith”) Sedgwick, and a precocious Frank Stella. Near the end of the spread was a short paragraph introducing an up-and-coming comic and TV writer, “twenty-odd, blond, with a pumpkin smile, pointed joints, and a voice like puréed pumice.” She was pictured in a svelte black cocktail dress, the stem of a small, clownish flower pincered like a cigarette between the fingers of one hand. She told the interviewer that she wrote by walking around town, talking into a recorder, and transcribing her own speech. “I’m a piece of Pop Art,” she explained. This was Joan Rivers, and although the pert self-portrait was more mask than memoir—her real name was Molinsky, she was brunette, and she was at that point 32—her ability to transform the fluorescent colors of commercial entertainment into frank, surprising comic art only grew during the half-century of her ascent.
By the time Rivers died today, at 81, from complications after a medical procedure on her vocal chords, she’d become an ubiquitous presence in a stand-up world usually closed to aging comics. She regularly joked that she’d do anything to stay busy and in the game. (She liked to complain that the aging actress June Allyson had trumped her as the face of Depends adult diapers.) The line was funny mostly because it seemed true. Again and again, Rivers took the most processed and trifling of pop-culture gobstoppers—reality TV, red-carpet reporting, airplane books, network talk shows, the close reading of celebrity facelifts—and made them unsettling and bold. Rivers did with the cold, cruel face of modern entertainment culture what Sarah Hughes might have done with a frozen lake: She spun and danced on it; she made it come alive. In the end, thanks to her artistry, the whole landscape looked less ominous and bare.
Frothy materialism was both her public interest and her private disguise. Almost from the start of her career, Rivers was cast as a money-grubbing superficialist—“a vulgarian in every sense of the word,” as Cathleen Schine put it in a 1985 Vogue assessment. Strangely, it was a reputation that she relished. Leading a camera around her Baroque (in every sense of the word) home for the fine 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, she flaunted her taste for gaudy excess. “Marie Antoinette would have lived here if she had money,” she deadpanned. The similarities, of course, ended there. Rivers worked tirelessly as a kind of lifelong CEO of her career, filling her calendar with engagements, signing paychecks for a mammoth staff, and flying all around the world to take jobs, any jobs, that might help keep the business going. By casting herself as a bantam-weight performer pecking at the edge of public life, she built what was essentially the longest, fastest-churning career of any female comic of her century. “People think it comes so easily,” she remarked in the documentary, riffling through a vast card catalog in which she’d typed and filed every joke she had written over 30 years. But the comedy, like everything else, came hard.
As a girl in Larchmont, New York, Rivers had dreamed of being an actress, playing with “the big boys,” but she found herself unattractive, so she worked assiduously to get ahead through other means. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard, married a bright young student (the marriage lasted six months), and, in the course of working odd jobs, started doing comedy in Greenwich Village clubs. She always felt competitive with her cohorts, and undistinguished by comparison. “I was in a group with George Carlin and Woody Allen andBarbra Streisand and Simon and Garfunkel and Bill Cosby,” she later said. “They all got through ahead of me.”
Her break finally came in the mid-sixties, when Johnny Carson, who adored her, took overThe Tonight Show. Rivers’s comedic style at the time, hyper and brash, today seems tame, but her subjects—childbirth, abortion, her feelings of inadequacy—honed her reputation as a provocateur, sometimes in ways that weren’t welcome. (According to Rivers, Jack Lemmon walked out of an early set.)
The more that she settled into this responsibility, the freer she seemed to become. “Nobody ever asked me for anything. I have never been the first choice on anything, ever,” she said on a talk show not long ago. So why fret? The late-career Rivers, a grande dame of comedy with a face as plainly phony as a maraschino cherry, seemed to throw herself at every opportunity that came her way: reality television, a QVC jewelry line, and even, despite some initial squeamishness, Fashion Police, the celebrity-gawking show that turned into her senior-age signature. She made fun of even her friends unsparingly. She was merciless with subjects of popular piety, like Helen Keller (“Shut up, Helen, or I’ll rearrange the furniture in your room!”), the children of presidents (“Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf!”), and the vaunted doyennes of the fashion world (On Donatella Versace: “She’s looks like something you’d hang off your door in Africa”). Even at her meanest, though, she was rarely cruel; laughter was her magic wand, not her revenge weapon. “Comedy is to make everybody laugh at everything and deal with things,” she once exclaimed at a heckler. “If we didn’t laugh, where the hell would we all be?” This may have been her deepest article of faith.
“People love to build you up, and then they love to destroy you,” Rivers told Bruce Handy, in the May 1986 issue of Vogue. “And then they love to venerate you at the end. I’m scared of the first time I walk out on an award show and they all stand up—that will mean I have cancer.” Perhaps she’d be sorry she never made it to that last ovation, or perhaps she would have been pleased to avoid the flood of showbiz disingenuousness. Rivers’s genius was to soak up all the snideness, scrutiny, and inhibition of modern celebrity culture and reflect it back into the world as a dazzling comic light. Not long before her death, she walked out of a CNN interview she felt was trying to put her on the defensive; a few days later, David Letterman walked out on her on his show, leaving her alone onstage. Rivers adored the gag and began interviewing herself about her love life. Even in the direst of circumstances, she had no problem suffering all sorts of slings and arrows. All she had to do, to set the world right, was retort, in one perfect joke: Same to you