The legendary stand-up comedian and actress, Joan Rivers, died yesterday according to her daughter Melissa Rivers. The comedian stopped breathing during a procedure on her vocal cords at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
The 81-year-old sharp tongued comedian blazed a trail in the world of standup comedians which was dominated by men. She had no women to use as role models; her main inspiration was Lenny Bruce who taught her that stand-up comedians could tell the truth. She got her first break on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1965and then appeared in several TV shows as well as top comedy clubs such as the Bitter End and the hungry i. The New York Times compared her to Woody Allen and called her “a prime example of what’s new in comedy”.
A resilient professional
After the notorious falling out with Johnny Carson, Rivers left him to start her own late-night show on Fox that ended up a nightmare for her, both professionally and personally. The show was suspended within a year, and ultimately, her husband and manager committed a suicide.
After all these unfortunate incidents, Rivers proved that she was not only a pioneer, she was also a great survivor. The comedian bounced back first with a popular daytime talk show and then with the E! Red Carpet show which branded Rivers as the nation’s most famous red-carpet fashion queen. Another key landmark in her TV hosting career was the show Fashion Police, mocking celebrities and their outfits.
She was working, working working
Arguably, the world’s most famous female comedian, she not only featured a quick-wit and sharp-tongued humour; but she was also a misfit, working relentlessly to network her way into success and battling to make it in a man’s world. Donald Trump, who chose her as the winner on a season of "Celebrity Apprentice," said Rivers had incredible stamina and power. She doggedly overcame all the misfortunes and hardships that occurred in her life.
One of her close friends, Nancy Reagan stated “Joan Rivers was not only a dear friend, but one of the kindest and funniest people I ever knew. I doubt there’s anyone who hasn’t laughed at her or with her until they cried. Today our tears are those of sadness. I know I join millions in saying, ’Thanks for the good times Joan, we will truly miss you”.
Rivers left her mark as a distinguished comedian who inherently embodied a remarkable wicked style of humour as well as a dynamic personality that truly defined her as the most successful female comedian in the US.