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Remembering Joan Rivers

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Womensforum.com takes time to remember Joan Rivers and the spectacular and inspiring moments throughout her life.

We lost one of the greatest. As Joan Rivers has been so lovingly remembered, what stands out most besides her humor and timeless jokes are her generosity, love for her family and friends, and her resilience through a life that was dark at many times. Her time was somehow cut too short as described by many. That’s how you know a legend has passed – when they’re 81 and "gone too soon."

Her comedy will remain gold, her fans say she wasn’t done and her colleagues say work will never be the same. As Fashion Week continues, it’s significant to remember that Fashion Week is the star-studded event it is because of what Joan Rivers accomplished when she started interviewing on the red carpet in 1994.

"Who are you wearing" is the minted term that Fashion Week resides on. It’s because of Joan that Fashion Week is an event of the stars, not just a runway.

We hold back our tears as we look back on a career that will never be reincarnated - her life, her triumphs, and even her darkest moments are what made Joan tick and what makes this such a hard goodbye.

Rivers was born Joan Alexandra Molinksy 81 years ago in the Bronx, New York. She graduated from Barnard College in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature. Before entering show business, her resume was filled with odd-jobs. She was a Rockefeller Center tour guide, writer at an ad agency (she wrote everyday until her death) and finally as a fashion consultant at Bond Clothing Stores (an experienced fashion expert). Molinksy became Joan Rivers after her agent, Tony Rivers, insisted on changing her name.

After a couple short-running plays and performing in countless comedy clubs across New York, Rivers landed her first appearance as a guest on The Tonight Show, hosted by Johnny Carson. Rivers recalls Carson changing her life when he looked at her and said, "You’re going to be a star."


By the 1980’s, Johnny Carson had become her mentor and Rivers described the time as being "Johnny Carson’s daughter." She became a frequently recurring guest on the show by 1983 and went on to host an episode of SNL all while releasing numerous comedy albums featuring her stand-up routines.

Controversy struck in 1986 after Fox announced a new late show, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Having truly broken through the glass ceiling, Rivers was the first woman to have her own talk show on Fox. However, Caron didn't take it so well and banned her from The Tonight Show. The decision was backed by Carson’s successors Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien.

Jimmy Fallon was the gentleman to let her return after 26 years of being banned, and he did so on his first episode as host. Fallon tearfully recalled the episode during his tribute to her on Thursday night’s show. He spoke of how Rivers always believed in him when no one else did, a similar story that many share about the comedienne. Fallon went on to say, "It was really emotional and really nice. I don’t want to show a clip, because I don’t think it will do her justice…We loved her. We will definitely miss her."

Soon hard times hit Rivers as her night show got cancelled. Three months later, her husband and father to daughter Melissa, Edgar Rosenberg, committed suicide. Rivers has spoke of that time in her life as the darkest moment. In her E! True Hollywood Story, Rivers revealed the moment she almost killed herself. With a gun sitting on her lap, River’s Yorkie dog jumped up on top of the gun. Rivers has said that dog saved her life.

Joan took a second stab at a daytime talk show with The Joan Rivers Show. She won the Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 1990.

Joan and Melissa Rivers revolutionized the red carpet when the duo hosted together at the Golden Globes. It was here that “Who are you wearing” was born. Joan’s interview style was like nothing anyone had seen before, and of course it made for great television. Known for her too-personal questions for the stars, the red carpet was reborn as a true event because of what Joan Rivers did and how she changed the interview game.

Joan left E! in 2003 and went on to cover award shows for the TV Guide Channel. Her return to the network came in 2010 when Fashion Police was born. She and co-hosts Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne, and George Kotsiopoulos enjoyed the ride for four years. Rivers’ last show was covering looks from the 2014 Emmys and VMA’s, just days before her death.

Her other career highlights include being cast on Celebrity Apprentice in 2013 by Donald Trump. Joan won the competition after daughter Melissa was eliminated weeks prior. She was a New York Times bestselling author and starred in the reality show Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best starring Rivers, daughter Melissa, and grandson Cooper. Another show that was in production up until her death was her web series, In Bed With Joan. Her last interview was with LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian.

Joan made us laugh when we didn’t feel like laughing and she has made a tremendous and irreplaceable impact in comedy. Young girls look up to her as not just the trailblazer who paved the way for women comedians, but just simply the funniest woman that ever lived.


Rivers had guts, she was unapologetic, she worked rigorously until the day she died, and Hollywood is a little dimmer without her in it. Celebrities like Lena Dunham, Evan Rachel Wood, and Chrissy Teigen have said they knew they made it in Hollywood the moment that Joan told them how ugly they looked. That was Joan.

We miss her today and we will miss her always. She changed the lives of people she believed in and worked with. She has made us throw our heads down in disbelief from her inappropriate jokes. And through her darkest tragedies, she has triumphed into a legend, truly an icon.

In Joan's words, "I enjoy life when things are happening. I don't care if it's good things or bad things. That means you're alive. Things are happening."

So keep laughing through the tough times. It's what she taught us.

Photo Credits: PR Photos, YouTube

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