Magazine article Variety

REMEMBERED: The Self-Effacing Comedienne Never Stopped Working

Magazine article Variety

REMEMBERED: The Self-Effacing Comedienne Never Stopped Working

Article excerpt

As with many other famed performers, Joan Rivers was the opposite of the public person she raucously portrayed. Crass on stage, she was elegant in private, with a kindly, understated presence. Shallow in her stage comments, she was well-read and thoughtful in real life.

By the mid-1980s, Rivers seemed to have succeeded in all her ambitious goals - as a standup, TV entertainer, actress and writer. She'd been named permanent guest host of "The Tonight Show" and enjoyed a close relationship with Johnny Carson. She even won her own nighttime show in competition with Carson on the new Fox network.

The new show was to prove a disaster for her career and personal life. Carson claimed Rivers had never confided in him that she planned to become a rival, which Rivers did not deny. He never spoke to her again. The new show at Fox was a debacle, and both she and her husband, Edgar, were fired. A few months later Edgar, utterly dispirited, committed suicide.

I'd been a good friend of Edgar Rosenberg before their 1965 marriage, and I had quickly bonded with Joan. Edgar had built a solid career in public relations. Their marriage was warm and successful on both personal and business levels. They acquired a large, elegant home in Bel-Air, and entertained a wide circle of friends in theater and film. As Joan's career spiraled upward, it consumed more and more of Edgar's time and professional attention. The Joan and Edgar show had gone big-time beyond their wildest expectations.

During my years as a film executive, Joan conferred with me often about movie and TV ideas. …

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