Joan Rivers started her comedy career at the young age of 12. She began telling stories to some of her father's colleagues, making them laugh hysterically. Humor became her way of gaining attention and being appreciated. Rivers continued following her talent through high school and college, where she became the class actress and appeared in many school productions. She graduated from college with honors but left with no hope of an entertainment career. She took a job as a buyer for Lord & Taylor. She moved up the ladder quickly and married the son of the vice president of the company. The marriage only lasted six months. After a failed marriage and a fairly successful sales career she decided to drop it all and try for her dream. Joan Rivers finally got started.
Rivers began by making the rounds in New York, displaying her comedy in clear view. She landed roles in several off-off Broadway shows, including one with Barbara Streisand. Rivers struggled as an actress for years and decided to tour with the USO shows during WWII. She had thousands of men laughing at her jokes. Soon she began performing with Chicago's Second City and working at the coffeehouses in Greenwich Village. She struggled in the clubs alongside Woody Allen, George Carlin, Dick Cavett, and Richard Pryor. Like most great comics, Joan Rivers found her comedic hallmark. Lenny Bruce encouraged her to pursue her comedy with the well of personal humor from her own life. Her career soon began to take off.
In 1965 she was invited to perform on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. She met and married producer Edgar Rosenberg and soon after gave birth to daughter Melissa. During this already busy time in her life, Rivers was beginning to appear on more television shows and stand up in front of bigger audiences. She soon had her own syndicated talk show on daytime TV. That Show With Joan Rivers was an instant success. She also guest-hosted on Carson and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. In 1972 she co-wrote a play that ran on Broadway. After enjoying success in New York, Rivers decided to take her act, and her family, to Hollywood.
Rivers dipped into the movie pot when she arrived in Hollywood. She wrote a TV-movie, The Girl Most Likely To, which gave Stockard Channing her first break. She also launched Billy Crystal's career when she cast him as the lead in her first feature film, Rabbit Test, which she wrote and directed. In 1983 Joan Rivers became a permanent guest host on The Tonight Show. She headlined sold-out shows in Las Vegas. Tickets to her performances also sold out at Carnegie Hall. She seemed to be on top of the world with no chance of falling, but the tragic death of her husband caused Rivers to hit bottom. She moved back to New York and soon got back on her feet. She took a role in Neil Simon's Broadway Bound. She won an Emmy and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Her struggle and rise to stardom became an NBC-TV movie called Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story. She wrote and starred on Broadway in Sally Marr and Her Escorts, for which she earned a Best Actress Tony nomination. During the 90s Joan Rivers wrote three bestselling books including Bouncing Back[i/], and From Mother to Daughter. Rivers now has her own jewelry line on QVC to top off her already impressive resume. Rivers still puts time aside in her busy schedule to perform live, getting back to her comedic roots in the clubs of New York City.
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