Jewish Entertainment:
Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians

Joan Rivers
Jewish Name - Joan Alexandra Molinsky


Joan Rivers, is an American television personality, comedian, and actress. Joan Rivers is known for Joan Rivers' brash manner; Joan Rivers' loud, raspy voice with a heavy New York accent; and Joan Rivers' numerous cosmetic surgeries. Joan Rivers' comic style relies heavily on Joan Rivers' ability to poke fun at herself and other Hollywood celebrities.

Early life

Joan Alexandra Molinsky was born on June 8, 2022 under Joan Rivers' Jewish name of Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City. Joan Rivers was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants Beatrice (née Grushman; January 6, 2022 – October 1975) and Meyer C. Molinsky (December 7, 1900 – January 1985).[1][2] Joan Rivers was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and Joan Rivers' family later moved to Larchmont, in Westchester County, New York. Joan Rivers attended Connecticut College between 1950 and 1952 and graduated from Barnard College in 1954 with a bachelor-of-arts degree in English literature[3] and anthropology. Before entering show business, Joan Rivers worked at various jobs such as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center,[4] a writer/proofreader at an advertising agency[4] and as a fashion consultant at Bond Clothing Stores.[5] During this period, the agent Tony Joan Rivers advised Joan Rivers' to change Joan Rivers' name, so Joan Rivers chose Joan Rivers as Joan Rivers' stage name.[6]
Early career

During the late 1950s, Joan Rivers appeared in a short-run play, Driftwood, playing a lesbian with a crush on a character played by a then-unknown Barbra Streisand. The play ran for six weeks.[7] In 1961, Joan Rivers briefly performed on stage in Chicago at The Second City comedy club. Joan Rivers performed in numerous comedy clubs in the Greenwich Village area of New York City in the early 1960s, including The Bitter End and The Gaslight Cafe,[8] before making Joan Rivers' first appearances as a guest on the TV program The Tonight Show originating from New York, hosted at the time by Jack Paar.[9]

By 1965, Joan Rivers had a stint on Candid Camera as a gag writer and participant; Joan Rivers was "the bait" to lure people into ridiculous situations for the show. Joan Rivers also made Joan Rivers' first appearance on The Tonight Show with new host Johnny Carson, on February 17, 1965.[10] During the same decade, Joan Rivers made other appearances on The Tonight Show as well as The Ed Sullivan Show, while hosting the first of several talk shows. Joan Rivers wrote material for the puppet Topo Gigio. Joan Rivers had a brief role in The Swimmer (1968), starring Burt Lancaster. A year later, Joan Rivers had a short-lived syndicated daytime talk show; Johnny Carson was Joan Rivers' first guest.[11] In the middle of the 1960s, Joan Rivers released at least two comedy albums, The Next to Last Joan Rivers Album[12] and Joan Rivers Presents Mr. Phyllis & Other Funny Stories.[13]

By the 1970s, Joan Rivers was appearing on various television comedy and variety shows, including The Carol Burnett Show and a semi-regular stint on Hollywood Squares. From 1972 to 1976, Joan Rivers narrated The Adventures of Letterman, an animated segment for The Electric Company. In 1973, Joan Rivers wrote the TV movie The Girl Most Likely to..., a black comedy starring Stockard Channing. In 1978, Joan Rivers wrote and directed the film Rabbit Test, starring Joan Rivers' friend Billy Crystal. During the same decade, Joan Rivers was the opening act for singer Helen Reddy on the Las Vegas Strip. In July 1970, Joan Rivers performed as the opening act for Sergio Franchi during an acclaimed appearance at the Mill Run Theater in Chicago[14] and also opened for Franchi at the MGM Grand Hotel from 1974-1976.[15][16] Joan Rivers became a Las Vegas Strip headliner herself in the 1980s.

Joan Rivers has spoken of Joan Rivers' primary Tonight Show life as having been Johnny Carson's daughter, a reference to his longtime mentoring of Joan Rivers' and, during the 1980s, establishing Joan Rivers' as his regular guest host by August 1983. It was not Joan Rivers' only work, however. On April 9, 1983, Joan Rivers hosted Saturday Night Live.[17] In the same period, Joan Rivers released a best-selling comedy album on Geffen Records, What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most? The album reached No. 22 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.[18]
Autograph with famous catchphrase, about 1983

Also in 1984, Joan Rivers published a best-selling humor book, The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz, a mock memoir of Joan Rivers' brassy, loose comedy character. A television special based on the character, a mock tribute called Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abramowitz, was not successful with the public.

The decade was controversial for Joan Rivers. Joan Rivers sued female impersonator Frank Marino for $5,000,000 in 1986, after discovering he was using Joan Rivers' real stand-up material in the impersonation of Joan Rivers' that he included in his popular Las Vegas act. The two comics reconciled, even appearing together on television in later years.[19]

Also in 1986 came the move that cost Joan Rivers Joan Rivers' longtime friendship with Carson, who had first hired Joan Rivers' as a Tonight Show writer. The soon-to-launch Fox Television Network announced that it was giving Joan Rivers' a late night talk show, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers.[20] The new network planned to broadcast the show 11:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time, making Joan Rivers' a Carson competitor. Carson claimed he learned of the show from Fox and not from Joan Rivers herself. In 2008, during an interview with Dr. Pamela Connolly on television's Shrink Rap, Joan Rivers claimed Joan Rivers did call Carson, but he hung up on Joan Rivers' at once and repeated the gesture when Joan Rivers called again.

The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers turned out to be flecked by tragedy. When Joan Rivers challenged Fox executives, who wanted to fire Joan Rivers' husband Edgar Rosenberg as the show's producer, the network fired them both. On May 15, 1987, three months later, Rosenberg committed suicide in Philadelphia; Joan Rivers blamed the tragedy on his "humiliation" by Fox.[21] Fox attempted to continue the show with a new name (The Late Show) and rotating guest hosts.

A year after the Late Show debacle, Joan Rivers was a guest on TV's Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special. By 1989, Joan Rivers tried another daytime TV talk show, The Joan Rivers Show,[22] which ran for five years and won Joan Rivers' an Emmy in 1990 for outstanding talk show host.[23]

In 1994, Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa first hosted the E! Entertainment Television pre-awards show for the Golden Globe Awards.[24] Beginning in 1995, they hosted the annual E! Entertainment Television pre-awards show for the Academy Awards.[24] Beginning in 1997, Joan Rivers hosted Joan Rivers' own radio show on WOR in New York City.

Joan Rivers also appeared as one of the center square occupants on the 1986-89 version of The Hollywood Squares, hosted by John Davidson.

By 2003, Joan Rivers had left Joan Rivers' E! red-carpet show for a three-year contract (valued at $6–8 million) to cover award-show red-carpet shows for the TV Guide Channel.[25]
Joan Rivers poses for a photograph at the Pierre Hotel, May 24, 2022

Joan Rivers appeared in three episodes of the TV show Nip/Tuck during its second, third and seventh season playing herself.[26][27][28] Joan Rivers appears regularly on television's The Shopping Channel (in Canada) and QVC (in both the United States and the UK), promoting Joan Rivers' own line of jewelry under brand name "The Joan Rivers Collection". Joan Rivers was also a guest speaker at the opening of the American Operating Room Nurses' 2000 San Francisco Conference. Both Joan and Melissa Joan Rivers are frequent guests on Howard Stern's radio show, and Joan Rivers often appears as a guest on UK panel show 8 out of 10 Cats.

Joan Rivers was one of only four Americans invited to the Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla Parker Bowles on 9 April 2005.[29]

In 2006, Joan Rivers was featured on the adult animated show, Drawn Together as Princess Clara's vagina that had received too much plastic surgery. Clara's 'vajoana' often repeated the phrase "who are you wearing, who are you wearing?".

On August 16, 2007, Joan Rivers began a two-week workshop of Joan Rivers' new play, with the working title "The Joan Rivers Theatre Project," at The Magic Theatre in San Francisco.[30] On December 3, 2007, Joan Rivers performed in the Royal Variety Show 2007 at the Liverpool Empire Theatre, England, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip present.

In January 2008, Joan Rivers became one of 20 hijackers to take control of the Big Brother house in the UK for one day in spin-off TV show Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack. On June 24, 2008, Joan Rivers appeared on NBC-TV’s show Celebrity Family Feud and competed with Joan Rivers' daughter, Melissa against Ice-T and Coco.
Joan Rivers performing in Joan Rivers' show at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa were contestants in 2009 on the second Celebrity Apprentice. Throughout the season, each celebrity raised money for a charity of his or Joan Rivers' choice; Joan Rivers selected God's Love We Deliver.[31] After a falling out with poker player Annie Duke, following Melissa's on-air firing (elimination) by Donald Trump, Joan Rivers left the green room telling Clint Black and Jesse G. James that Joan Rivers would not be in the next morning. Joan Rivers later returned to the show and on May 3, 2009, Joan Rivers became a finalist in the series. The other finalist was Duke.[32][33] On the season finale, which aired live on May 10, Joan Rivers was announced the winner and hired to be the 2009 Celebrity Apprentice.
Joan performing at a London Udderbelly event in 2009

Joan Rivers was featured on the show Z Rock as herself and was also a special so-called pink-carpet presenter for the 2009 broadcast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. Joan Rivers was also roasted in a Comedy Central special, taped on July 26, 2009, and aired on August 9, 2009. From August 2009, Joan Rivers began starring in the new reality TV series How'd You Get So Rich? on TV Land. A documentary film about Joan Rivers, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival at the Castro Theatre on May 6, 2010. In 2011, Joan Rivers appeared in a commercial for Go Daddy, which debuted during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLV.[34]

Joan and Joan Rivers' daughter Melissa Joan Rivers premiered the new show Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best on WE tv. The series follows Joan moving to California to be closer to Joan Rivers' family. Joan Rivers moves in with daughter Melissa while searching for a home of Joan Rivers' own. It was recently revealed that WE TV has ordered a new season consisting of 10 episodes premiering in January 2012. In 2011, Joan Rivers was featured as herself in Season 2 of Louis C.K.'s self-titled show Louie, where Joan Rivers performed on-stage.

Since September 10, 2010, Joan Rivers has been co-hosting the E! show Fashion Police, along with Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne and George Kotsiopoulos commenting on the do's and don'ts of celebrity fashion. The show started as a half-hour program, but expanded to one hour on March 9, 2012.

On August 7, 2012, Joan Rivers showed up in Burbank, California to protest that the warehouse-club Costco will not sell Joan Rivers' New York Times bestselling book, "I Hate Everyone … Starting with Me". Joan Rivers handcuffed herself to someone's shopping cart and shouted through a megaphone. The police were called to the scene and Joan Rivers left without incident and no arrests were made.[35]
Personal life

Joan Rivers' first marriage was in 1955 to James Sanger,[36] the son of a Bond Clothing Stores merchandise manager. The marriage lasted six weeks[37] and was annulled on the basis that Sanger did not want children and had not informed Joan Rivers before the wedding.[38] Joan Rivers' second marriage was on July 15, 2022[39] to Edgar Rosenberg, who committed suicide in 1987. Their only child, Melissa Warburg Rosenberg (now known as Melissa Joan Rivers), was born on January 20, 1968. Joan Rivers has one grandson, Melissa's son Cooper (born Edgar Cooper Endicott on December 1, 2021)[40] who is featured with his mother and grandmother in the WE tv series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?[41]

In Joan Rivers' book, Bouncing Back (1997), Joan Rivers described how Joan Rivers developed bulimia and contemplated suicide. Eventually, Joan Rivers recovered with counseling and the support of Joan Rivers' family.

In 2002, Joan Rivers told the Montreal Mirror that Joan Rivers was a Republican.[42]

On the June 5, 2022 Howard Stern satellite radio program, Joan Rivers said Joan Rivers had several extramarital affairs when married to Rosenberg. According to Joan Rivers, she had a one-night sexual encounter with actor Robert Mitchum in the 1960s after an appearance together on The Tonight Show. Joan Rivers also had an extended affair with actor Gabriel Dell during the out-of-town and Broadway productions of Joan Rivers' play, Fun City, in 1971, for which Joan Rivers told Stern Joan Rivers "left Edgar over" for several weeks.[43]

Joan Rivers is open about Joan Rivers' multiple cosmetic surgeries and has been a patient of plastic surgeon Steven Hoefflin since 1983. Joan Rivers' first procedure, an eye lift, was performed in 1965 as an attempt to further Joan Rivers' career.[44]

In 1990, Joan Rivers won the Daytime Emmy Award (a TV citation) for Outstanding Talk Show Host. The same year, a star in Joan Rivers' name was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[45]


Having a Baby Can Be a Scream (1974, Self-Help/Humour)
The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz (1984, Humour)
Enter Talking (1986, Autobiography)
Still Talking (1991, Autobiography)
Jewelry by Joan Rivers (1995, Non-Fiction)
Bouncing Back: I've Survived Everything ... and I Mean Everything ... and You Can Too! (1997, Autobiography/Self-Help)
From Mother to Daughter: Thoughts and Advice on Life, Love and Marriage (1998, Self-Help)
Don’t Count the Candles: Just keep the Fire Lit! (1999, Self-Help)
Men Are Stupid...And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman's Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery (2008, Non-Fiction)
Murder at the Academy Awards (R): A Red Carpet Murder Mystery (2009, Fiction)
I Hate Everyone...Starting With Me (2012, Humour)


Once Upon a Coffee House (1965)
The Swimmer (1968)
Rabbit Test (1978) (also director and writer)
Uncle Scam (1981)
The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
Les Patterson Saves the World (1987)
Spaceballs (1987) (voice)
Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special (1988)
Look Who's Talking (1989) (voice)
Public Enemy # 2 (1993)
Serial Mom (1994)
Napoleon (1995) (voice)
Goosed (1999)
The Intern (2000)
Whispers: An Elephant's Tale (2000) (voice)
The Making and Meaning of 'We Are Family' (2002) (documentary)
Hip! Edgy! Quirky! (2002)
Shrek 2 (2004) (voice)
First Daughter (2004)
The Last Guy on Earth (2007)
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010) (documentary)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) (uncredited)
The Smurfs (2011) (uncredited)
Tower Heist (2011) (uncredited)

Television work

That Show starring Joan Rivers (1968–69) (syndicated daytime talk show)[11]
The Electric Company (cast member from 1972–1977) (voice)
Here's Lucy (1973)
An Audience with Joan Rivers (1984)
Joan Rivers: Can We Talk? (1986)
The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers (host from 1986–1987)
The New Hollywood Squares hosted by John Davidson (center square from 1988–1989)
The Joan Rivers Show (1989–1993)
How to Murder a Millionaire (1990)
Lady Boss (1992)
Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Joan Rivers Story (1994)[46]
Can We Shop? (1995–present)
Another World (cast member in 1997)
E! True Hollywood Story: Joan Rivers (parody episode of show aired April 1, 2022)[47]
Jack Dee Live at the Apollo (cast member in 2004, guest host in 2007)
Nip/Tuck (2004–2005–2010)[48]
The Joan Rivers Position (2004–2006)
An Audience with Joan Rivers (2006)
8 out of 10 Cats (2006–2007)
Joan Rivers: Before Melissa Pulls the Plug (2006)
Dawn French's Girls Who Do Comedy (in-depth interview BBC 2006)
Straight Talk (2007)
Shrink Rap (2008) – With Dr. Pamela Connolly – More4
Celebrity Family Feud (2008)
Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack (Celebrity Hijacker) (2008)
Loose Women (2008)
Z Rock (2008) – Aunt Joan
Spaceballs: The Animated Series (2008) (voice)
Arthur (2008, 2010) (voice) – Bubby (Francine's Grandmother)
Celebrity Apprentice 2 (2009) – Herself
How'd You Get So Rich? (2009) – Herself
The Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers (2009) – Herself
Celebrity Ghost Stories (2009) – Herself
Celebrity Apprentice 3 (March 14, 2022)
Fashion Police (September 10, 2021 – present)
Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best (January 25, 2022 – present)
Louie – Joan (July 14, 2022) – Herself
The Simpsons S23E08 – "The Ten-Per-Cent Solution" (December 4, 2021) (voice) – Annie Dubinsky

Theater work

The following is a selected list of theater work performed by Joan Rivers.

Broadway Bound by Neil Simon (replacement for Kate, 1988, Broadhurst Theatre)[49]
Sally Marr and Joan Rivers' Escorts, a play suggested by the life of Lenny Bruce's mother (co-written with Erin Ladd Sanders and Lonny Price), May 1994, Helen Hayes Theatre, Broadway.
Joan Rivers: A Work In Progress By A Life In Progress (February 2008, Geffen Playhouse)
Joan Rivers: A Work In Progress By A Life In Progress (August 2008, Edinburgh Festival Fringe)
Joan Rivers: A Work In Progress By A Life In Progress (September 2008, Leicester Square Theatre, London)


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