Comedienne, Author, Talk Show Host. Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky, she was raised in Brooklyn, and later moved to Larchmont, New York. In the early 1950s, she attended Connecticut College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and anthropology. Early in her career, she worked at various jobs such as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center, a writer and proofreader at an advertising agency and as a fashion consultant at a high-end clothing store. During the late 1950s, she appeared on stage in a short-run play before she performed in numerous comedy clubs in the Greenwich Village. In the early 1960s, she made her first appearances as a guest on the TV program 'The Tonight Show' in New York, hosted at the time by Jack Paar, and appeared again with new host Johnny Carson, in February of 1965. Soon thereafter, she released two comedy albums, 'The Next to Last Joan Rivers Album' and 'Rivers Presents Mr. Phyllis & Other Funny Stories'. During the 1970s, she appeared on various television comedy and variety shows, including 'The Carol Burnett Show' and had a semi-regular stint on 'Hollywood Squares'. In 1973, she wrote the TV movie 'The Girl Most Likely to...' and in 1978, she wrote and directed the film 'Rabbit Test', starring Billy Crystal. During the same decade, she was the opening act for several popular singers on the Las Vegas Strip. In 1986 Fox Television Network announced that it was giving her a late night talk show, 'The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers' which the network planned to broadcast opposite 'The Tonight Show', putting her a direct competitor of Carson, who learned of the show from Fox and not from Rivers herself and never spoke to her again. Her show lasted one season. In 1989, she hosted a daytime TV talk show, 'The Joan Rivers Show', which ran for five years and won her a Daytime Emmy in 1990 for Outstanding Talk Show Host. In 1994, Rivers and daughter Melissa first hosted the E! Entertainment Television pre-awards show for the Golden Globe Awards, and the following year, they hosted the annual E! Entertainment Television pre-awards show for the Academy Awards. In 2003, she left her E! red-carpet show to cover red carpet events for the TV Guide Channel. Since September 2010, Rivers has co-hosted the E! show 'Fashion Police' and the following year, she and her daughter premiered the new show 'Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?'. Rivers died several days after undergoing an outpatient procedure at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Bio by: Louis du Mort
Barbara Cushman Molinsky Waxler