Today we bid farewell to a quintessential New York dame – Joan Rivers.
I first saw Joan Rivers live in 1972 in Fun City a Broadway show about NY. Bringing her sharp brand of humor to the Great White Way, she both co-wrote and co-starred in this very short-lived show. The show may have been a flop, but as Joan Rivers herself would say “It was a BROADWAY way Flop!”
Co-written with husband Edgar Rosenberg and Lester Colodny, the comedy imagined what life might be like in NY in the immediate future and how romance may be conducted there.
Though a NY Times critic panned the production as “frenetic to the point of being frazzled” the same reviewer praised Rivers as “ a deft comedy writer” and “a very funny lady.”
That very funny lady will be sorely missed.
Her bio that appeared in Playbill’s Who’s Who is exhaustive, but just the tip of an iceberg of what would be a very long prolific career.
“Joan Rivers (Jill Fairchild) is making a double-barreled Broadway debut as the star and co author of Fun City, climaxing a leap to stardom which took place on February 17, 1965, when she first appeared on televisions Tonight Show and displayed her direct line to Americas funny bones. In the interim she has solidified her position as the preeminent comic spokeswoman through countless television, supper club and concert engagements.”
“Following a fling at fashion coordination, this Barnard-educated daughter of a Westchester physician launched her entertainment career playing the leads in the off-Broadway revivals of See the Jaguar and Bernadine while also writing special material for several off-Broadway revues.”
“A role in Talent’61 an off-Broadway showcase won her an audition and a subsequent engagement at the Bon Soir nightclub. Next came an 8 month residency in Chicago where she honed her comedic gifts as a member of the Second City troupe.”
“She returned to NY with the Second City company and continued working as a performer while writing television material for Zsa Zsa Gabor Phyllis Diller and Bob Newhart and served as a creative source for Candid Camera.”
“In 1964 she began a long act-developing engagement at Greenwich Villages Upstairs at the Duplex, which led her to her Tonight Show appearance.”
“She hosted and was one of the writers of a comedy talk television variety series, That Show-with Joan Rivers while appearing frequently on all major television variety programs.”
“Since 1966 she has been virtually comedienne in residence at NY’s sophisticated supper club, Upstairs at the Downstairs, and is a recurring headliner at such major clubs as the Copacabana, Harrah’s in Reno and the Desert Inn, Sands and Rivera in Las Vegas.”
“She is also one of the most frequent guest hosts of the Tonight Show. ”
“She and her husband Edgar Rosenberg, also a co author of Fun City, married after a 4 day courtship in 1965. They have one daughter Melissa Frida, three and a half, who is currently working on a major historical novel. Miss Rivers is a Republican, her husband is a Democrat and their daughter is a Royalist.”
I loved her acerbic wit! No one was safe, not even Joan Rivers, when she touched them with her comedy. A lovely tribute. Lucky you to have seen her in a live performance!
There was no one else like her or who had her longevity. From her first appearance on Ed Sullivan to the red carpet, it seems Joan Rivers as always been a part of our popular culture, mocking it as much as she mocked herself.
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How true, Sally! I remember watching her on Ed Sullivan, thinking she was pretty phenomenal and bright for that program.
Not to say Ed Sullivan didn’t have something of value to it, just that it was kind of like an upbeat Lawrence Welk old peoples’ show to me when I was a kid. With three channels on the television here at the time, Sullivan was the best program in that time slot on Sunday evenings. Wer’d have supper at my grandmothers, watch Ed Sullivan, whatever followed, then return home.
Joan Rivers was doubly funny, I think, because she always dressed like the sophisticated New York lady she was. Everything perfect and in place, but that mouth kept saying these very outrageously funny things that had me on the floor laughing! “She didn;t really say that, did she?” Oh yeah!
I think it was that incongruity of a polished well dressed woman espousing the things she said that was so startling, daring and hit a cord with so many. Unlike say Phylis Diller who dressed and looked a bit over the top, Joan always appeared very ladylike which made it all the more disarming.
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