AKA Joan Rivers
Born Joan Molinsky, Rivers stood out in the early 1960s as a female stand-up comedian. There just weren't many women who wanted to get into that male-dominated profession. With a routine revolving around men, marriage and her own insecurities, Rivers quickly graduated to headliner, eventually making her way to TV with frequent appearances on variety series like The Ed Sullivan Show (pictured), which she also wrote for.
Joan and Johnny
Joan earned greater fame with frequent appearances opposite Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, becoming the permanent guest host in 1983. The pair eventually had a falling out when Joan took a job hosting her own show on Fox in 1986, neglecting to tell Johnny. He took it as an insult and never talked to her again.
Joan and Edgar
© Sipa Press/Rex
Her second husband, Edgar Rosenberg, was a mysterious background figure in Joan's life. She'd sometimes joke about him in her stand-up routine. But mostly he preferred to stay in the shadows. They collaborated on several theatre and film projects, with Edgar also producing her talk show Late Night With Joan Rivers in 1986-87. When both were fired for low ratings, Edgar committed suicide a few months later.
Joan and Billy
AVCO Embassy Pictures
Joan wrote frequently for print, TV and films over the years. There have been a dozen books, as well as a movie, Rabbit Test. The 1978 comedy, which she also directed, starred a young Billy Crystal as the world's first pregnant man. Despite an ad campaign that featured Rivers prominently, Rabbit Test was a huge flop.
Joan and Fox
Joan was hugely popular as a fill-in for Johnny Carson. But on her own nightly talk show, it was perhaps a case of too much Joan. Still, the fledgling Fox network didn't exactly show a lot of patience. When the initial ratings turned bad, Fox was only too happy to replace their star with Arsenio Hall. The experience was crushing for Joan, who lost a good friend (Johnny Carson) for taking the job, and later lost her producer/husband Edgar to suicide.
Joan in Space
Following the debacle of her late night talk show in 1987, Joan kept working. Besides her lengthy stand-up schedule, she did voice work in several movies including Spaceballs (pictured) and Look Who's Talking. On TV, she also served as centre square on The New Hollywood Squares. But her biggest success during this period was The Joan Rivers Show (1989-93), a daytime talk show that earned her an Emmy as best host.
Joan and Melissa
Joan had a close relationship -- personal and creative -- with her actress/reporter daughter Melissa. They first starred together in an autobiographical 1994 TV movie, Tears and Laughter, about the days following the death of father/husband Edgar. They talked fashion on the red carpet of several award shows for E! and The TV Guide Channel. Melissa was also the producer behind Joan's recent YouTube interview show In Bed With Joan.
Joan The Apprentice
You never messed with Joan. Even at 75, she defeated celebrity contestants like Dennis Rodman and Andrew Dice Clay to win the 2009 installment of the Donald Trump reality show. Still, it was a contentious victory. In the finale, Joan faced off against poker player Annie Duke in a Kodak fundraising challenge. Though Annie raised nearly 3 times the money of Joan, Rivers won for overall experience and product branding and was declared victor.
Since 2010, Joan had employed her caustic wit to expose celebrity fashion faux pas on E!'s popular Fashion Police. Man, you didn't want to walk down the red carpet in an unflattering or flamboyant ensemble lest you draw the comic ire of Joan. She could devastate you with just one quip.
Broadimage/REX/Rex Feature Ltd.
As a comic, Rivers often pushed the edge when it came to humour. Her love for edgy topical observations and celebrity putdowns never wavered even as she hit 80. In recent years, she got in trouble for making jokes about the weight of singer Adele and actress Lena Dunham ('Girls') and a joke about Kristen Stewart sleeping her way to the top. She was also vilified for a routine she did about the Holocaust. In all cases, Rivers defended herself and her right to make jokes.
Joan and Jimmy
Joan made her return to The Tonight Show after more than 25 years (and three hosts) earlier this year. She surprised Jimmy Fallon on his first show then sat down for an interview a month later, talking of vagina rings and Bruce Jenner.