Joan Rivers, June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers, June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014

The funeral of Joan Rivers in Manhattan today was both wildly funny and deeply moving, much like the lady herself. The world has lost a courageous pioneer who paved the way for so many women comedians who came after, as well as a tireless supporter of HIV/AIDS activism and many other worthy causes. Following are excerpts from the New York Times description of her funeral.

For the comedian Joan Rivers, no occasion was off-limits, not even her own funeral.

She once wrote that she wanted her funeral to be “a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action,” with craft services, paparazzi and publicists on hand. “I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents,” she wrote in her 2012 book, “I Hate Everyone …Starting With Me.”

On Sunday, that day arrived as hundreds of people gathered at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan to say goodbye to the comedian, who died on Thursday at 81. A private funeral service was held in the synagogue, but fans and spectators amassed outside, on Fifth Avenue opposite Central Park, some wearing their Sunday best to honor the fashion-savvy Ms. Rivers.

With paparazzi snapping away, a parade of entertainment stars entered the building: Diane Sawyer; Barbara Walters; Howard Stern; Rosie O’Donnell; Whoopi Goldberg; Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband, Matthew Broderick; and Charlie Rose, among others.

Inside, white gardenias lined the front of the synagogue as an organist played classical music. Shortly before 11 a.m., the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus began to sing several songs, including “What a Wonderful World,” “There Is Nothing Like a Dame” and “Big Spender.” The program said that the Broadway luminaries Audra McDonald and Hugh Jackman were to perform.

Outside, camera crews interviewed women holding small white dogs, while a hansom cab pulled by an off-white horse named Joey trotted down Fifth Avenue in front of a rope line bristling with photographers, pausing only long enough for the tourists in his coach to snap photos of the scene.

Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, who was often by her side on camera, said after her death that although it was a difficult time, her mother’s “final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.”

On Sunday morning, Ms. Goldberg arrived at the funeral in a flowing black caftan and wore one pink shoe and one blue shoe. She and Ms. Rivers had shared a manager and “35 years of friendship,” she said.

A fan of Ms. Rivers, Max Buccini, 30, stood on Fifth Avenue behind a police barricade holding a bouquet of decorative cabbages and white hydrangeas. He had spent $60 on the bouquet. Ms. Rivers, he said, had empowered him.

“Especially as a gay man growing up, thinking it was O.K. to like the fashion,” he said.

His friend Sean McGrath, 22, held a bouquet of pink roses.

Nearby on the sidewalk, Bronwen Brenner, 13, stood wearing pearls with a 1940s pillbox hat with a jewel-studded veil atop her magenta curls. Ms. Rivers would approve of her outfit, she said — except for the Converse sneakers.

“She probably would criticize me for not wearing heels,” she said.

Her mother, Jamie Brenner, 43, said she thought all the hoopla surrounding the funeral on Fifth Avenue was deserved. “How many 81-year-olds have a 13-year-old fan?” she said.

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Published in Tributes


  1. nmod

    Great blog Laurie ! I haven’t watched TV for years ! So this is pretty much all new info to me ! I would have liked to watch it ,but I never remember to turn the TV on ! Thank you …

  2. welshchrisie

    I used to be addicted to her jewellery on QVC and have many pieces. My mother in law also benefited as I gave her pearl necklaces for various occasions and she wore them with her twin sets, sadly she died 10 months ago aged 92.
    I was lucky enough to speak to Joan on QVC on the phone when I was ordering something, can’t remember what was said but for the rest of the day I was buzzing.
    Very sad to know that this wonderful funny lady is no longer with us, however she will not be forgotten as every time I wear a piece of her jewellery I will always remember her and her wonderful irreverent humor.

  3. sallysue

    Nice blog Laurie , we have lost two great comedic talents in such a short space!, Robin Williams and now Joan Rivers . They will be missed.