WASHINGTON, September 4, 2014 — Joan Rivers is dead. Hard to say, much less accept. Her death is nothing short of mournful. How she died is catastrophic.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 4, 2014
“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends,” her daughter Melissa Rivers said in a written statement issued to news media announcing her death.
Outrageous, blunt, irreverent, essential and honest, she shared it all. Being a single mom, the 1987 suicide of her husband Edgar, the famous fight with Johnny Carson, bankruptcy — she was the female to her male counterpart, Don Rickles.
Rivers and Rickles worked together at a casino. There was a fire overnight and the pair had to evacuate. Rickles remembers standing in the street with her, in pajamas, while she held her dog. “What people don’t know is that she was really smart,” Rickles said. “She could talk about anything.”
She loved her daughter Melissa. Together they fought the fight and the haters. And there were the haters. Because truth and the ability to be smart and funny anger people.
But Joan, and those that loved her from close-by or afar, didn’t care about the haters.
At 81, Joan took Sarah Jessica Parker’s ice bucket challenge, because she was generous and kind.
Can we talk?
The first time America heard that phrase was on February 17, 1965. Joan Rivers appeared on “The Tonight Show” and she made Johnny Carson laugh. And she made me laugh. I would rush to watch “The Tonight Show” with my dad whenever Joan was on or guest-hosted.
For me, it was a bigger deal than The Beatles.
Here Joan sits down with Carson, who was guest hosting the Sammy Davis show.
And an absolute favorite clip, featuring two of comedy’s greatest, Joan and Lucille Ball, offering some great insight into two of comedy’s icons.
Joan, who started as a comedy writer, wrote of her death saying:
When I die (and yes, Melissa, that day will come; and yes, Melissa, everything’s in your name), I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action … I want Craft services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene!
I want it to be Hollywood all the way.
I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents. I don’t want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing “Mr. Lonely.” I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentine gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag.
And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyonce’s.
That was Joan Rivers catch phrase and when I first saw her in person, in 1976, at a theater outside of Chicago, Illinois. Whe had me laughing as hard as I have ever laughed, before or since.
She was a feminist in pearls. She was a trail blazer and an inspiration for tough-talking comedians like Roseanne Barr, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and countless others.
She said her humor worked because she told the truth, scrapped it down to the truth and laughed about it. And we laughed with her. And when the audience gasped, or someone complained, she whipped out her “Oh grow up.”
Humor was the most important thing in the world, just after her daughter and grandson, to Joan Rivers. There have been many stories told about the card cabinets in her Upper East Side apartment filled with millions of joke, most typed up on three-by-five cards, and filed by subject.
Everyone has their heroes. I wanted to grow up and be fearless, free and funny — I wanted to grow up to be Joan Rivers.
One can only imagine heaven now. Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, Johnny Carson on the quintessential Tonight Show couch. With a guest appearance by Lucy.
I wish Heaven had YouTube and offer condolences to her daughter Melissa, grandson Cooper, friends and family.
Joan Rivers will be buried on Sunday, September 7, 2014 among tears, and quite a bit of laughter.