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How Joan Rivers Reinvented Herself After Husband Edgar Rosenberg Took His Own Life

Bettina Dizon
May 21, 2019
09:35 A.M.
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Joan Rivers went through a series of losses in her life yet managed to bounce back with a forward-looking personal and professional outcome, and here’s how she did it.


Joan Rivers was an iconic comedian whose name is prominent in Hollywood, but her life was not always a series of laughter and joy. In fact, until her death, no one really knew of her tragedies with personal and professional experiences.

With a booming career in 1986, Rivers played sold-out shows around the country, released her book, “Enter Talking,” and landed a permanent guest host on the then most popular late-night show, “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, which launched her career.



Seeing as her career was spiraling upward, Fox offered the comedian her own show which was set to be a direct competitor of “The Tonight Show.” After she accepted the exceptional offer, she lost her friend and mentor, Carson, who refused to speak to her.

“I kept saying, ‘I don’t understand, why is he mad?’ He was not angry at anybody else. I think he really felt because I was a woman that I just was his. That I wouldn’t leave him. I know this sounds very warped… But I think it was a question of, ‘I found you, and you’re my property,’” Rivers told the Hollywood Reporter.


In 1987, “The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers” had ratings below average, and Fox fired the late-night host. Shortly after, in the same year, River’s husband of 22 years, Edgar Rosenberg, took his own life due to what she believed was depression.


“Melissa wasn’t talking to me; my career was in the toilet, I’d lose my Vegas contracts, I’d been fired from Fox… I thought, ‘What’s the point? This is stupid,” she told the Daily Beast about her experience with suicide.

After being faced with a series of unfortunate events, Rivers knew there was no way to go but up, and so she reinvented herself and came back stronger and better than ever, with an impressive career to match.



Two years later, Rivers was given her own daytime show, “The Joan Rivers Show,” which quickly became a hit, earning her a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 1990 and a nomination for several other awards.

Rivers also delved into retail where she produced her own line of clothes, jewelry, and accessories on the QVC channel, which later turned into a successful venture with over $1 billion sales.


Rivers continued her hosting for E! until her last days in 2014, before suffering from cerebral hypoxia and joining her husband at rest.


The comedian turned entrepreneur later found therapy over her husband’s death through acting in a made-for-TV movie, “Tears and Laughter” The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story,” with her daughter, Melissa.

Critics began pointing fingers at Rivers for exploiting her husband's horrific end to add drama to the story but later recognized how the film destigmatized suicide.


“It was very therapeutic for Melissa and me,” Rivers shared. “Edgar’s death was so raw. So we bonded tremendously.”


In addition to the already great career of Rivers, she was requested to host the Golden Globes pre-show red carpet and later host the Academy Awards with her daughter.

The mother-daughter duo became a staple at the red carpet, even coming up with the often used line, “Who are you wearing?”

Rivers continued her hosting for E! until her last days in 2014, before suffering from cerebral hypoxia and joining her husband at rest. In an interview with People, Melissa shared how her mothers’ parenting style was of significant influence on her.