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Also Known As: Joan Alexandra Molinsky Died: September 4, 2014
Born: June 8, 1933 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: comedian, actor, talk show host, radio host, writer, fashion coordinator, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

For more than four decades, Joan Rivers remained a staple of American pop culture, culminating in her trademark catch phrase "Can We Talk?" First making her name as a comedienne, she followed up as talk show host, author, playwright, actress, director and red carpet interviewer until only one form of all-encompassing nomenclature was finally needed - simply, Joan Rivers. One of stand-up comedy's first female practitioners Rivers landed her big break on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (NBC, 1962-1992) in 1965. That appearance began a lengthy working friendship with Carson that ended acrimoniously years later to disastrous effect for Rivers. Soon after the cancellation of her short-lived "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers" (Fox, 1986-87), the host was devastated by the suicide of her husband-producer Edgar Rosenberg. While many predicted the end of Rivers' career, the indomitable yenta soon began an arduous journey of reinvention. An attempt at a daytime talk show later gave way to a second career alongside daughter Melissa Rivers as an interviewer-fashion commentator at red carpet events. By then, Rivers had perfected her self-deprecating persona to a point where she somehow managed to be...

For more than four decades, Joan Rivers remained a staple of American pop culture, culminating in her trademark catch phrase "Can We Talk?" First making her name as a comedienne, she followed up as talk show host, author, playwright, actress, director and red carpet interviewer until only one form of all-encompassing nomenclature was finally needed - simply, Joan Rivers. One of stand-up comedy's first female practitioners Rivers landed her big break on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (NBC, 1962-1992) in 1965. That appearance began a lengthy working friendship with Carson that ended acrimoniously years later to disastrous effect for Rivers. Soon after the cancellation of her short-lived "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers" (Fox, 1986-87), the host was devastated by the suicide of her husband-producer Edgar Rosenberg. While many predicted the end of Rivers' career, the indomitable yenta soon began an arduous journey of reinvention. An attempt at a daytime talk show later gave way to a second career alongside daughter Melissa Rivers as an interviewer-fashion commentator at red carpet events. By then, Rivers had perfected her self-deprecating persona to a point where she somehow managed to be both abrasive and endearing. Even as a septuagenarian, Rivers was a tireless self-promoter, winning the 2009 season of "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ) and co-starring on her own reality series, "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?" (WE tv, 2011- ). Beloved for her biting satire, or scorned for her personal foibles, one thing was undeniable - Rivers was the ultimate Hollywood survivor. That sense of seeming indestructibility made her death at the age of 81 on September 4, 2014 seem all the more surprising; she had been working only days before the cardiac arrest that claimed her life.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Rabbit Test (1978) Director

CAST: (feature film)

3.
 Iron Man 3 (2013)
4.
 Smurfs, The (2011)
9.
 Shrek 2 (2004)
10.
 First Daughter (2004) Herself
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked as fashion coordinator for Bond Clothing Stores and publicist for Lord & Taylor
:
Began her stand-up career, billing herself as Pepper January
1961:
Beacame a member of Second City tour group
:
Became a writer and performer on TV's "Candid Camera"
1966:
Made first appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (NBC) and "The Ed Sullivan Show" (CBS)
1968:
Film debut, opposite Burt Lancaster in "The Swimmer"
1968:
Hosted first talk show, the syndicated "That Show"
1972:
Broadway debut as actor and playwright, "Fun City"
1973:
Co-wrote the teleplay for "The Girl Most Likely To..." (ABC)
:
Wrote nationally syndicated column for <i>Chicago Tribune</i>
1977:
Co-created the CBS series, "Husbands, Wives, Lovers"
1978:
Writer-director of the feature "Rabbit Test"
:
Continued to regularly guest host on NBC's "The Tonight Show"
1986:
Hosted "The Late Show" on Fox
1987:
Featured as a regular on "Hollywood Squares"
1988:
Acted on Broadway in Neil Simon's "Broadway Bound"
1989:
Hosted the syndicated daytime talk show, "The Joan Rivers Show"
1992:
Hosted the USA Network's "Joan Rivers' Gossip! Gossip! Gossip!"
1994:
Co-starred with daughter Melissa in the NBC TV-movie, "Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story"
1995:
With daughter Melissa, hosted pre-award shows on E! Entertainment TV
1997:
Made several guest appearances on NBC's "Another World"
1997:
Hosted radio show on WOR in New York
2002:
Performed in the West End, the controversial one-woman show, "Broke And Alone in London"
2004:
With daughter Melissa, left hosting duties at E! Networks and began co-hosting for the TV Guide Channel
2004:
Guest-starred as herself on the season finale of F/X's "Nip/Tuck"
2007:
Replaced by Lisa Rinna as TV Guide Channel's leading red-carpet host
2007:
Featured before Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh in the Royal Variety Show at the Liverpool Empire Theatre
2009:
Won the Donald Trump-hosted reality competition "The Celebrity Apprentice" on NBC; earned $250,000 for her charity: God's Love We Deliver
2009:
Hosted the reality TV series "How'd You Get So Rich?" on TV Land
2010:
Subject of the documentary film "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Connecticut College: New London , Connecticut - 1950
Barnard College: New York , New York - 1954
Barnard College: New York , New York - 1954

Notes

"Finally, in 1965, I was promised a shot on 'The Tonight Show.' Six times I showed up and six times they said no. Finally, the seventh time, they said, 'You're on.' I had only a few minutes at the end of the show, but Johnny told me in front of the whole country that I was funny, and that I was going to be a star." --Joan Rivers in Vanity Fair, October 1990.

"My mother and father thought I'd be a doctor or lawyer, but it was my sister, Barbara, who became the lawyer. Barbara was my only sibling and I owe a lot to her. I get my drive from being the second child and a fat child. In my school class picture I was the entire first row. My sister was smarter and better than I was in every way." --Joan Rivers

"Rivers began her career as a self-deprecating comic making ugly-single-girl jokes about herself. Somewhere along the line she felt so bad about her own appearance that she embarked upon an extreme regime of dieting and plastic surgery that transformed her into something else-if not attractive exactly, then at least a person who conformed to a country club notion of how a woman of a certain age should look. Now instead of a frump, she's an anorexic surgery junkie whose stock-in-trade is sitting in judgment of some of the world's greatest beauties.

If Rivers has a saving grace, it's this: The heart of her shtick is that she thinks everyone, including herself, is at bottom really trash-and that means you too. Because we are all vile, mean characters, we're invited to sling the mud right along with Joan. ...

Rivers's cruelty has been widely remarked upon, though watching her and her sad daughter, Melissa, is as addictive as botox treatments. Still, if there's one thing really wrong with Rivers (OK, there's more than one thing wrong), it's that, like her cohorts who lunch at Swifty's and live on Park Avenue, whatever is different and weird and wonderful in fashion repels her. Rivers simply has no tolerance for bohemia." --Lynn Yaeger about Rivers' hosting pre-awards show specials in Village Voice (March 26, 2002).

Received an honorary doctorate from Marrymount Manhattan College in 1996.

"I helped launched the Fox network, joined E! early on and was able to work with my daughter, Melissa, and now, the two of us have joined forces, once again, to help propel TV Guide Channel to a new level," Rivers said. "It couldn't be better."---Rivers on the decision to leave E! Networks for TV Guide Channel eonline.com Jun 30, 2004

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
James Sanger. Heir to Bond Stores; married in 1957; marriage annulled in 1958.
husband:
Edgar Rosenberg. Manager, executive, producer. Born c. 1925; married in 1964, committed suicide by valium overdose on August 14, 1987 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
companion:
Orin Lehman. Businessman. Born c. 1920; together from c. 1993 engaged as of June 1996; broke off engagement in 1999 but continued to see one another.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Meyer C Molinsky. Physician.
mother:
Beatrice Molinsky.
sister:
Barbara Molinsky. Attorney.
daughter:
Melissa Rivers. TV anchor. Born on January 20, 1968; graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (1991); directed a play in L.A. in fall 1991; married horse breeder John Endicott on December 12, 1998; gave birth to son Edgar Cooper Endicott on December 1, 2000.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Having a Baby Can Be a Scream" Hawthorn Press
"The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz" Doubleday
"Enter Talking" Doubleday
"Still Talking"
"Jewelry"
"Bouncing Back: I've Survived Everything ... and I Mean Everything ... and You Can Too!" HarperCollins
"From Mother to Daughter: Thoughts on Life, Love and Marriage" Birch Lane Press
"Don't Count the Candles: Just Keep the Fire Lit" HarperCollins
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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