Joan Alexandra Molinsky

Joan Alexandra Molinsky, Joan Rivers is a comedian famous for her fast, self-mocking, bitchy patter, her raspy voice, and her borderline offensive material. Her parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia who settled in Brooklyn. After college, Rivers worked as a shoe buyer for Lord & Taylor, a then-upscale clothier, and later for Bonds, another shop where she married the son of the vice president. They were divorced six months later.

Rivers was doing comedy on the side, and performed briefly with Chicago's Second City, but mostly she did stand-up in coffee shops, gay bars, and dives. In the mid-1960s she wrote and performed for Candid Camera, and she still says that show's host Allen Funt was "not a very nice man". Like many of the best comedians or her generation, Rivers' career took off with an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.

The crowds at her shows were immediately larger, and she soon met and married Edgar Rosenberg, a TV executive. References to Edgar became part of her routine. In 1968, she had a bit part in Burt Lancaster's odd midlife crisis classic The Swimmer. Also in 1968, her daughter and eventual co-star Melissa Rivers was born. In 1969, Rivers got her first TV talk show, a syndicated half-hour called That Show, which didn't last long.

In 1983, after dozens of appearances on Tonight, she became Carson's "permanent guest host", filling in once every third week. In 1986, though, she infuriated Carson by jumping to the upstart Fox network for The Late Show starring Joan Rivers -- aired opposite Tonight. From its first broadcast, Rivers' Late Show ratings were better than anyone had done against Carson in years -- but still nowhere near his numbers, and not good enough for the executives at Fox.

 They started meddling behind the scenes, with Fox honcho Rupert Murdoch aggravating Rosenberg and vice versa. Finally, Murdoch gave Rivers an ultimatum: Lose Rosenberg or lose your show. Rivers lost both the show and the husband. She was fired, and Rosenberg had a nervous breakdown and overdosed on Valium the next summer. The show limped on for seven months with a succession of uninteresting hosts, as Rivers grieved publicly but kept herself busy.

The Joan Rivers Show, a new syndicated daytime talk show, started in 1989 and lasted four years. Rivers made a soapy tearjerker out of her husband's suicide in the 1994 TV movie Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story, starring Joan and Melissa Rivers as themselves. In recent years she's done lots of cartoon voice work, and reportedly made millions pitching fake jewelry on QVC. She's now best-known as the bitchy fashion co-critic, along with Melissa, at the Oscars and other show biz awards shows, and does similar fashion reviews on cable's E!.
Title: Joan Alexandra Molinsky
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