There is no in between when it comes to Joan Rivers; you either love her or you hate her.
I really don’t remember all that much about Joan Rivers career because I never really followed her. I researched a lot about her and one thing for sure, she blazed trails.
She gave most of the credit for her beginning success to Johnny Carson. In a touching appearance on the tonight show, Johnny read the dedications in her book. Joan thanked her husband for making it possible and then she thanked Johnny Carson for making it ALL possible. Carson’s support of her and many comics was unwavering. The countless number of comics that he made were epic. The only thing he demanded; and wow did he demand it; was loyalty and respect.
The falling out with Carson was hard on Joan Rivers. She had an offer to do her own show on another network and realized that her days may be numbered when NBC only gave her a one year renewal contract. She wanted the new show badly.
Many of Carson’s hosts had their opportunity for other shows, and all of them; out of respect; always got Johnny’s blessings before moving on. Joan went about it another way. She said nothing to Johnny and signed a contract. Two days after signing, she heard that Carson was incensed that she would disrespect him. For Johnny, it was the ultimate sign of disloyalty. Rivers said that she called Johnny two days later and he said nothing and just hung up; they never spoke again. Johnny Carson said that she never called him.
Her show was a disaster. She tried to be something she thought the audience wanted and it backfired. She wanted more control than what the network was willing to give so Arsenio Hall took her place. Shortly after the show was cancelled, her husband killed himself.
Another thing people say is that Johnny wasn’t exactly into that type of humor, and I think as Joan aged, she got nastier and it turned Johnny off even more. There were stories that she would see him in a restaurant and he’d ignore her. Johnny insisted that Joan never communicated with him so he just moved on. Ah, Hollywood drama.
Joan was a rich man’s Kathy Griffin before Kathy Griffin. There wasn’t anyone she wouldn’t rip on or make fun of, including herself. She was the kind of comic that would say anything for attention and controversy. The new generation likes that type of drama so she’s found a new audience. She was one smart cookie.
Joan reinvented herself many times over. She wrote books and then became a fashionista of sorts, making fun of celebrities and the crazy things some of them wore on shows like the Fashion Police. Joan became popular with a new generation who are obsessed with sarcasm. What they don’t get is that Joan was sarcasm before it was the cool and in thing to do.
Today sadly Joan Rivers is no more. She lost her life after she stopped breathing during a minor surgical procedure. Her daughter Melissa; who I think owes ANY and ALL fame and success to her mom; is her only child. Melissa adored her mom and it’s a huge loss at any age.
I like watching old clips of Joan in the 70’s and 80’s. She was a funny person and she shined on the tonight show. She had charm and didn’t go out of her way to offend as she did later in life. Some are not big fans of hers and there are many that down right don’t like her; but whatever you think about her; just like Phyllis Diller, she blazed a trail for female comics that should be respected.
Wherever they are, somehow you hope that her and Johnny can finally patch things up. Grudges usually are really not worth it; especially eternal ones.