Joan Rivers has died at the age of 81, a week after what should have been a routine medical procedure which turned tragically wrong. The night before she was doing what she did best – making people laugh with her live stage act. And the night before that she hosted what turns out to be her final “Fashion Police”, ripping the outfits worn by celebrities at the Emmy and MTV Video Music Awards.
Rivers was an inspiration to so many, particularly those in the comedy and fashion industries. One of Johnny Carson’s favorite guests on “The Tonight Show”, Rivers appeared often and became the permanent guest host. But when she got her own, short-lived FOX talk show in 1986, sadly, her relationship with Carson ended same.
In the mid-90s, Joan and her daughter Melissa began hosting the Academy Awards Red Carpet specials for E!, and then the TV Guide Channel. Coming back to E! for “Fashion Police” beginning in 2010 put Joan at an all-time high. Her persistent off-color and hilarious one-liners while she criticized celebs’ red carpet looks became a pop culture phenomenon. References to “Fashion Police” were everywhere. Rivers even had an on-set cameo in last year’s “Iron Man 3”.
And in the excellent, very candid 2010 documentary, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”, we witnessed Rivers dealing with her incredibly busy schedule, performing at comedy clubs coast-to-coast every week, while handling her family life as well. And the film also chronicled her eventful 2009 on the second season of “The Celebrity Apprentice”, when she won the NBC competition series.
Rivers recently published her 12th book, “Diary of a Mad Diva”, a collection of jokes and stories from throughout her life that she kept track of on note cards. Still as busy and feisty as ever, a few months back she stormed-off during a CNN interview, and was set to take “Fashion Police” to The Big Apple for Fashion Week. It is unclear for now whether the show will continue, but it’s hard to imagine how it could.
One thing is for certain: Joan Rivers lived an incredible life. Not afraid of any material or anyone (including herself by poking fun at her numerous and infamous plastic surgeries), she was a diamond in the comedy mine and, just as with the late Robin Williams, will never be duplicated or replaced.