Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cry Me A Rivers

I really don't know if I can do this justice at all.  Joan Rivers was the definition of feminist to me.  She broke through every glass ceiling, got cut along the way, climbed back up and kept reinventing herself. She began her career in the all male dominated world of stand up comedians in the 1960's.  She caught the eye of the one and only Johnny Carson who loved her conditionally for many years.  He made her the first female guest host of the Tonight Show.  Joan Rivers had arrived.  She became more and more beloved by people all over.  Her husband, Edgar, made a deal at Fox for Joan to host her own late night show.  When she left Johnny Carson, he never spoke to her again.  Seriously.  It was the point in time that I thought less of Johnny Carson.  It was bullying and immature and when Joan's late show bombed, Johnny couldn't muster up the good grace to reach out to her.  Nope.  When Joan's husband killed himself at The Four Seasons (I believe) in Philadelphia, Johnny Carson couldn't find it in his cold heart to reach out.  Did that stop Joan?  Never.

Joan Rivers was cut from a very strong, resilient cloth.  She kept coming back.  With every setback, came a new success.  Is it because she is a true New Yorker?  Born and raised in Brooklyn with the heartiest of New Yorkers, she was a show business phoenix.  She conquered the world of QVC at their earliest beginning with a hugely successful jewelry line.  Still selling almost thirty years later.  Her success with the Fashion Police brought her another generation of fans.  That show can't go on without her.  How can it?  She was the core and the glue to make her colleagues laugh and gasp.  Her humor was cutting and biting, but nobody made more fun of her than she did.  Even in all the early years on Johnny Carson, all the jokes were at her own expense never at Edgar's.  She was always careful about that.  If you haven't seen her documentary, A Piece of Work, run, don't walk.  It was amazing in the movies and now will be even more impactful.

I feel all over the place and I can't do her or my feelings for her justice.  I wanted to be her friend.  Actually, I really wanted my Mom to be her friend.  Both strong, smart women.  It was my fantasy.  Joan was loyal to her family and friends.  I could feel that and never even met her.  I watched her E show with her daughter, sometimes deeply moving, sometimes fully staged, and always funny.  She was a devoted grandmother to Cooper. Their relationship seemed incredibly genuine and tight.  

When the news came last week that she had stopped breathing during a routine office procedure on her vocal chords, I really thought it was some kind of sick joke.  And then the days wore on, and the news was incomplete.  Sometimes it was dire and other times hopeful.  I and everyone that loved her were really holding on to the hopeful news reports. I knew that if she couldn't come out of the medically induced coma 100%, she wouldn't want to come out of it at all.  It's just that it's so sudden and she's gone too soon.  Some of you may say, well she was 81, but she had just done two Fashion Polices on the MTV Music Awards, Monday, and the Emmys, Tuesday. She flew to NYC to do promotion for her new book and do her stand up at the West Bank Cafe.  It will be one of my greatest regrets that I didn't make it to see her in that intimate setting in NYC.  She woke up Thursday, just like any other day, never thinking that it would be her last.  None of us did.  She went in for a routine procedure and, BAM, that's it.  How is it possible?  Seriously?  How could we lose someone so alive and vital?  

I am so sad.  If losing Robin Williams was big, this is even bigger for me.  She represented so much that I admired.  She was a fantastic role model for me as a young girl and still today.  I am not over it.  I will not be over it.  The loss feels personal and close to home.  This is just unfathomable.  My heart breaks for Melissa and Cooper.  Cindy Adams, one of her BFF's, NY Post columnist, and a dyed in the wool New Yorker, has written some great remembrances this past week and shared with her readers friendship stories. If you have a chance, read them.  I really feel heartbroken.  Gone too soon....

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