Joan Rivers,the pioneering comedian, author and producer has passed away.
Like many of you, I was hoping that Joan Rivers would bounce back and make us laugh for a decade or two after her botched operation last week. CNN has reported that the famous comedian, author, TV host, jewelry and fashion designer and philanthropist has just passed away.
CNN has published part of daughter Melissa Rivers' statement, ""She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends," Melissa Rivers said in a written statement.
I became aware of Joan Rivers as a child. I was entranced by her direct and sometimes fierce brand of comedy. Watching her guest host on The Tonight Show and later on her own show, I would attempt to mimic her voice and her delivery. You have no idea how strange it is to her a child trying to sound like her, but I did.
While some disparged her "take no prisoners" attitude when it came to hosting E!'s Fashion Police, she really was the reporter who kicked off the "Who are you wearing?" trend in entertainment and fashion reporting. We have her to thank and curse when it comes to getting fashion credits for award shows.
Kidding aside, Joan Rivers, time and time again paved the way for other women comics--her peers and future generations alike to grab the spotlight.
She started doing standup in the early 60s. Back then, there were maybe a handful of women attempting a career in that field. Joan stood out and performed on The Tonight Show in 1965. The then host and reigning king of late night TV, Johnny Carson liked her so much, he brought her back again and again. Carson could make or break an actor or comedian's career.
Rivers went on to star in her own late night talk show, produce movies, write 12 books, host and create TV shows, tour tirelessly and quietly support causes close to her heart.
She survived tragedies, including the suicide of her husband, Edgar Rosenberg and kept on going and going.
I'm not her biographer. There are more than likely, obituaries on the web and in print that will delve deeper into her life and work.
I admired her for a long time. She entered a field that's known for being extremely hard to get one booking, let alone make a career out of it. She conquered that field. Rivers looked out for her fellow comics and lent a hand too.
I remember getting a copy of Enter Talking and devouring it. This was Rivers pulling the curtain back on her life and talking about all the barriers she encountered: From her parents' discouragement, to career setbacks, to life as a single woman in New York City. She came of age in a time when a woman had little career prospects and she went for it.
Few people know that Rivers graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College, with a degree in English Literature.
She was a smart, gracious woman who lived life on her own terms and lived it well.
Joan, we will miss you.