Friday, October 28, 2016

The Book Of Joan: Tales Of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation

This next book is a combined biography told in stories. The majority is one written by a TRUE mother/daughter best friend(ship). No one knew each other better than they knew one another. From tragedy and overcoming odds until the end, they always had each other. From one half of this duo, here is their story, Joan Rivers' daughter & friend, Melissa Rivers.

Joan was a workaholic. A COMPLETE calendar full of events, shows, interviews and loads more. Joan never seen/thought of it as work, because once she knew what she wanted to do, there was no stopping her. Joan's parents were both Russian immigrants who were uprooted from their countries and came to the United States with nothing. The immigrant mentality of working hard to get ahead was taught to Joan and her sister, Barbara, by their parents. So, when Joan became a parent, there was no question Joan was going to be a working mother - and she became one long before it was a necessity. Joan seen work as a necessity like food, clothing and shelter. Joan didn't have to get a job, her husband and Melissa's father, Edgar Rosenberg, had always made a good salary which allotted them to be more than comfortable on his income. Joan's hard working was a CHOICE! A calling of hers.

After working hard earning an expensive degree from Barnard College in English Literature, she graduated and tried to do the "expected" thing and got a job working at the world-famous Bond Clothes in Manhattan. Even then, Joan's work ethic showed. Her diligence paid off: she wound up marrying the boss' son. Immediate regret and ending her marriage and job. Then went into show business. Working very hard at it. Joan was in show business for over 50 years and spent at least 30 of them traveling. Their family was very fortunate that when they flew, it was usually first class. Joan loved airplane food, so to her, first class was a 5-star restaurant. She was one you could say was an eater. Joan traveled so much that her habits became LEGENDARY! Joan "encouraged" Melissa to fly first class, even without a ticket. Using funny tactics to their advantage. What Joan loved more than first class food in American Airlines were the chocolates in the first-class lounge. Eventually giving her a box every other week.

When Melissa was little, she often went on the road with her parents, especially in the days before Joan had a regular TV series. Due to Joan's career, many of Melissa's formative years that make you the person you are were spent on a plane. Melissa was taught early on, before age 7, how to behave on a plane.

One of the best pieces of advice Joan gave Melissa was to be kind, polite & gracious to airline personnel no matter what. Joan always had a thoughtful word or compliment for everyone at the airline. Joan's generosity of spirit was always appreciated. One of her favorite books was 1967's bestseller Coffee, Tea or Me. Her 2 other favorites were Helter Skelter and Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Joan KNEW & had the appreciation for what attendants went through. She also maintained that passengers were connected to their flight attendants. We are one. With rare exceptions to certain people, Joan liked the people she poked fun of in her act. In hindsight, Joan hated more people than she liked. Flight attendants were not Joan's only favorites, she also loved proctologists.

Joan Perry
With Joan's early headshots and resumes, she chose the name Joan Perry; unbeknownst reasons why, but Perry fit better on a marquee. Joan's penchant for embellishment came as a result of being in show business. Lying on a resume is part of the territory to get work. If you can't prove it, LIE! Who is truly going to check? When Melissa was growing up, each morning before her dad, Edgar Rosenberg, went to work and she went to school, they'd all sit in the kitchen having breakfast and her parents would read the newspaper. Edgar would read the business section and the entertainment section. Joan would only read the obituaries. She was fascinated by who'd died and how and what would've been behind the headlines. Making a game out of it. Joan would read part of the obituary and Melissa would have to guess the facts about the deceased. If Melissa got it right, there was a candy treat. This lasted until Melissa was 12 due to her becoming good at it. She never understood Joan's death obsession. As a mom now to son Cooper, Melissa worried about the normal. Her obsessions fall under normal circumstances; Cooper, work, bills; etc.

Edgar's mind wasn't like Joan's. He was more worried about what happened afterward - and, sadly with reason. Joan and Melissa were unaware that Edgar had their estate & finances planned for the time and the future as well, as that and in other lifetimes, there would never be a trap door they could fall through. Edgar literally laid out how to deal with, handle & manage both family and business finances. He was meticulous and precise. After he died, Joan was at a TOTAL loss. She had no idea where to go or turn.  Edgar RAN it ALL. All Joan had to do was be funny. She had NO CLUE OR IDEA about the facts of what was what. All she knew was being Joan Rivers; Edgar's wife and Melissa's mom.

With loss comes a lesson. After Edgar's tragic passing, when Melissa had her son, Cooper, it was time for her to draw up a will. When it was finished. it turned out to be a virtual copy of the plan her father had set out for mother & daughter. Edgar's plan helped them immensely, particularly when Joan was left to her own devices. Once a week, Joan was giving petty cash by her assistant, who had withdrawn it from her bank, so she wouldn't be walking around with a pocket full of credit cards and a wallet full of ones. Joan would pocket some and hide the rest in places. Then be surprised when she found it to cheer her up. Then when she'd hidden enough, she'd go buy herself something. Knowing that this was her way of operating when it comes to money, after Joan's passing, Melissa had to shake out every book, magazine & folder and dig to find cash Joan had secretly hidden away. The grand total of what Melissa uncovered was $473.00, mostly in 5's and 1's, and the occasional crumpled-up $20. Melissa's saved that stash and on Joan's birthday, Melissa bought something fancy.

In 1965, Joan made her first appearance on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. At the end of her first segment, Johnny told her & KNEW that she was going to be a star. This was during a time when there was NO SUCH THING as overnight success. (Ex. - laying on your back didn't just make you a "star/somebody") You had to put in years & years of hard work paying dues before becoming an overnight success. It took Joan years to get there. She auditioned for The Tonight Show 7 times and was rejected just the same. One night a comedian had bombed, after a known comedian and one of Johnny's favorite guests watched the show that night, he called the bookers and suggested Joan. They relented and booked her. This was at a time with 3 networks and Johnny was a MUST WATCH! When you appeared on it, you became instantly recognizable. especially if you did it well. After Joan had done it, her name was building a good reputation.

The second big thing to come out of Joan's first appearance was Edgar Alfred Rosenberg, who was a producer in New York looking for a writer to punch up the script for a movie he was producing. A friend of his suggested this girl, Joan. Joan happened to be working in that area, so Edgar went to see her perform. He liked what he seen and set-up a meeting. From that meeting, Joan & Edgar married 5 days later. It wasn't love at first sight for either of them. It wasn't Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn. Edgar & Joan just KNEW! They just GOT each other. Once Melissa was old enough to realize that "speed engagements" weren't normal, she was 15. They were having breakfast one morning when Melissa decided to bring up the subject with her parents. While talking with her mom and Edgar in the room, as any man with a belligerent teenage daughter, a child raises those questions. Nine months after Melissa was born, her parents dressed her up and had the nanny hand deliver her to The Tonight Show offices with a note attached. From what she's been told, Johnny held Melissa in his arms during an entire script meeting before being returned to the nanny & her parents. A good laugh for everyone; except for Melissa.

Mark Twain & Judge Judy
If you tell the truth you don't have to have a good memory. - Mark Twain & Judge Judy.  Joan remembered EVERYTHING! She had to. Joan loved to lie. She & the truth went like oil & water. They didn't mix. Melissa mentioned Joan's lying to her once with cited quote included. No so much lie, but circle around the truth. It wasn't intentional to hurt anyone. If it did, Joan was mortified. Most of Joan's fibs were simple embellishments to make a story she was telling better or more interesting. Joan always called Melissa after her flights landed, to let her daughter know she safely landed. Of course, Joan would embellish a story to freak Melissa out. The irony is that when Joan DID NEED to lie, she was TERRIBLE when it counted. So, Melissa told her to say that Joan was too wiped and would rather stay home. A good lie without ALL of the details. But, how often did Joan listen to advice given?

One of Joan's favorite games was answering the phone in a foreign accent, in case it was someone she didn't want to talk to! Unfortunately, accents weren't Joan's specialty; nor did she ever think she had a recognizable voice. Joan also couldn't keep the accents straight to their pursuit countries. Of course, if it was someone Joan did want to talk to, she'd drop the accent and continue as normal. In 1993, Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation created the national Take Our Daughters To Work Day. Joan was doing that with Melissa in 1973. Not to her office, but to Las Vegas. Early in her stand-up career, Joan played Las Vegas 30 weeks a year and Melissa behind-the-scenes view of ALL of the big stars she opened for; including regulars. Joan referred to herself as the Strip Slut because she'd peddle her wares at every hotel on Las Vegas Boulevard. Mother & daughter would jump and stay wherever Joan would be playing. Melissa remembers standing in the huge hotel driveway watching her name come down on one marquee and go up on another. Beaming PROUDLY when her mother became a headline.

By the time Melissa was 6-yrs of age, she'd have clocked more hours than a Mafia bagman. While other first graders were in school learning to add/subtract, Melissa was learning whether or not to hit a hard 16 at a blackjack table. Before she could recite The Pledge Of Allegiance, Melissa could recite her mother's act, which made her handy when Joan hadn't performed in awhile.While Joan was in her makeup chair in the dressing room before the show, she'd have Melissa sit on the edge of her bathtub and recite all of everyone else's tricks, which made for a very clever party trick.

Las Vegas was/still is a 24/7/365 town. A lot of days, nights and even holidays were spent with the children of all of the other stars who were performing there at the time. Backstage at the hotels were their playground. Melissa hung out with the Vintons kids, Neil Sedaka's kids and a then-Chastity Bono; just to name a few. They had a rundown on the kids play fun in Vegas. Melissa spent a lot of holidays & birthdays in Las Vegas. Christmas in Las Vegas was a little confusing. Joan LOVED room service almost as much as she HATED cooking. She & Edgar figured how to play the room service system. Starting at the age of 5, no matter what city or hotel they stayed in, Melissa always had to "dress" for room service, as though it was a 5-star restaurant. Part of it was curtious appearance; the other was Joan's way of setting Melissa up. And you wonder why so many children of celebrities drink! Once Joan's career had taken off, they only stayed in hotels that had 24hr room service. Reasonable since Joan's comedy act didn't end until after 11;00P, after meet/greets and autographs. Life in rotation evolved to Joan's performance schedule. They were used to eating late. Joan couldn't stand people who ate dinner really early.

When Melissa was growing up in California they belonged to a country club, where her parents would partake in the environment. Joan was so nonathletic that when she was in high school, the gym teacher excused her from class without her even asking - for the entire year. When it came to sports, not only was Joan disinterested, she was totally illiterate. The only know how of what Joan knew was that Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe. The only athletic endeavor Joan participated in was power shopping, and during holiday sales, she turned it into a power sport. Edgar was no better; he was so nonathletic that the local college wouldn't let him be the team accountant; even though he had a masters degree in accounting - and he was only in 3RD grade. But Edgar was a sports fan. One of Melissa's fondest memories of him is lying on their bed watching football whilst Joan was downstairs ordering things on his credit card. But yes, Melissa is very athletic. Joan loved recessive genes. Seeing where one's looks/features come from. Of all of the children Joan & Edgar could've had, they never would've expected, or wanted, an athletic one. Joan looked at sports the way Liberace looked at women.

From an early age as a baby, Melissa jogged before she could walk. She liked athletics. While other kids like kid programming, Melissa was hooked on NASCAR. For a few years when she was in high school, Joan was convinced that Melissa's love of sports was her way of gently breaking the news that Melissa was a lesbian. When it wasn't the case, then it was out of spite. Joan's lack of interest in sports came from the fact that Joan was not a terribly coordinated person. So uncoordinated she could stub a knee, much less dance. Joan had no rhythm. Yet, she had no limitations stop her. Joan wanted ABC to book her and Melissa as a team for Dancing With The Stars. She'd try it and if it didn't work out, move on to something else. Joan would find ways to get around what to get done in exercise. Her way of exercise was 2 ways; walking or shopping. Joan walked everywhere. Exercising her way on her terms.

One sporting event Joan did enjoy attending was the Kentucky Derby because she got to wear a hat, the jockeys wore pretty colors and she could drink. Joan didn't fail at many things in life, but being a sports mom was one of them. Melissa gives her mom credit because Joan tried, but it wasn't easy. Joan & Edgar came to their daughter's sporting events even if the results weren't optimal. When Melissa was in the 5TH grade, she was on the school swim team. Let's say Joan & Edgar didn't apply the Don't Eat Anything An Hour Prior To Going Into The Pool, within their rule board.

Melissa's favorite sport growing up was horseback riding. They made a valiant effort to be good sport parents. They ALWAYS showed up and were THERE for it ALL! Somewhat embarrassing; due to them not really learning anything. At some point, Melissa cut them off from coming due to it becoming humiliating. After 20 years of riding, Joan & Edgar didn't pick up on ANYTHING! They could've cared less. Turns out Joan was frequently asleep behind her oversized glasses, and managed to stay upright only by propping herself against Edgar, who was usually listening to a business report on his Walkman radio. Quality over quantity time. Looking back, Melissa sees that what embarrassed her as a teenager she's taken to heart as an adult. The quantity time Joan gave is one of the reasons Joan is so involved with Cooper. Unlike Joan, Melissa gets involved in Cooper's activities and sports. A sports mom to her son. Giving Cooper what Melissa didn't get from her mother. Whenever Joan went to one of her grandson's events, she made herself stand out from the rest. JOAN RIVERS at her grandson's lacrosse games. When they went to the games, Melissa liked watching her mom almost as much as she enjoyed watching Cooper - because Joan knew NOTHING about the Lacrosse sport. Being Cooper's grandmother. Joan gave Cooper what she never gave Melissa.

Joan was a stickler for manners. The first time she took Melissa to a petting zoo, Melissa was 37. Joan was born in 1933 and was raised in an era where simple manners count a lot. Joan's mother would never leave the house unless she was dressed like a lady. COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDABLE at some point; but also a burden. On one hand, it's elegant and esteem-building way to behave, On the other hand, it seems like a huge pain-in-the-ass. Considering today's generation, Melissa can SEE & understand. When it comes to etiquette, Joan was very old-fashioned. She collected old Emily Post books to see how manners have changed throughout the years. When she wasn't on the road, they frequently sat down as a family and had a by-the-book formal dinner.

Joan believed, as do I personally agree, that men should be gentlemen & women should be ladies. She believed chivalry isn't dead. Joan was especially focused on table manners. Regardless of one's standing in life, there was never any excuse for bad table manners. The rules of civility are the same no matter what background. Joan & Edgar felt it was never too early to teach a child table manners. Melissa was taught that when being introduced to others, to address them as Mr. & Mrs. Joan's show business career took them all over the world, and Melissa learned the etiquette pursuant to their countries. The rules of etiquette in Hollywood are vastly different from elsewhere. And not of the money, power, attitude throw them away. Truth be told, Joan didn't care if you were Oscar-nominated or worked for Oscar Mayer - she felt everyone should be taught good or appropriate manners, they'll be a much more polite & civilized society.

Crown Books planned on releasing this book on Mother's Day making Melissa uncomfortable. They brought up the offer right after Joan's funeral. While at first uncomfortable, on the other hand, What would Joan Do? Joan believed that gift giving was as important as ancient art. She knew when & not to give a gift and an actual gift v. a gift card. Joan always said when gift giving in show business, there is an inner selfishness in receiving Joan was nothing, if not practical. Her 2ND most importance was thoughtfulness. A thoughtful gift was something you want; not need. Joan taught Melissa to be mindful of people's religion when purchasing gifts. Joan was always looking out for others. She was a giver. Even including re-gifting. Treat re-gifting like a crime scene and bury the evidence/body. They should never let you know they were there.

Joan & Edgar believed that education was the key to a better life. Both sets of Melissa's grandparents were. Edgar was one of the children of the Holocaust. He was born in Germany in 1925 and lived there until his family's flee to Denmark and then to Cape Town, South Africa, which was a blessing for Edgar. Joan's father was a Russian peasant who came to America and worked his way through Medical school. Joan's mother was from a well-to-do Russian family that had to flee similar to Edgar's family. So, Joan & her sister learned the importance of education as a survival tool.

Joan believed that men cared more about beauty than brains. Yet she insisted that Melissa go to college. They sent Melissa to private school as an opportunity to see their daughter thrive better. Melissa personally thought they were wasting their money. She grew up in Beverly Hills. When she was in the elementary grades, or until the time she exceeded her parents' academic abilities, Joan & Edgar were very hands-on. Checking every bit of homework, or what Melissa told them about. Joan & Edgar would help with what their strengths were. They made sure their daughter's homework was done right to a T. Joan was involved when it came to a class project. She was what would call a one-upper to the other kids' results. From the past, Joan tried to "get an edge" for Cooper in his class projects by trying to call-in favors from her creative friends, but Melissa watched her mom like a hawk, to make sure Joan didn't cheat to get him an A. Melissa would rather Cooper earn the grade.

Joan's take on cheating was coming from the best on intentions. Putting Melissa in schools that would give her the BEST intentions. During Melissa time at The Buckley School, Melissa spent a lot of time in detention; for things like violating dress code, ditching class, not doing her homework and engaging in fraternizing. NOTHING MAJOR; just rebellion. After the private schools, then came college. Going to college wasn't a choice as much as it was a family MUST! Which college to go to wasn't much of a choice either. It was either a BIG Ivy League or small. NO OTHER OPTIONS! Melissa is passing the tradition on with Cooper. He is expected to live up to the same standards that were so greatly put upon by Cooper's grandparents. Melissa's difference with Cooper is a few fallback schools due to their offers of worldwide lacrosse teams. At this book's publication, Cooper was in the 8TH grade.

Although she was raised in Southern California, Joan & Edgar were not your typical California parents. Melissa today eats right, works out and does the work to stay in shape. She took her mom's dietary plan and completely ignored it. Joan was one who never cooked. Her signature dish was takeout. Joan, while traveling. used to hide cash in empty Milk Duds boxes, also part of her diet/part of a 3-course meal. After her mom's passing, Melissa was HORRIFIED w/ a chill down her spine, knowing of the cleaning to be done after Joan passed thanks to that candy. When it was dinner at home, it was family table talk. A simpler time.

Despite their schedules & work, Joan & Edgar tried to do it right. They made sure their daughter had the right nutrient requirements. Edgar was one who would pay for results from Melissa rather than argue. When Melissa got to college, she had an epiphany about nutrition. After realizing her habits, she began eating better and made sure she was alone if she ate to her pleasure. Now, as a mother herself, Cooper follows his mom's footsteps.

Joan felt that "courting" was a game Melissa needed to know how to play. She fancied herself a modern-day courtesan in how she behaved & treated her men. Joan did have 2 legitimate long-term relationships after Edgar's passing. She told Melissa that dating was a game. When you're dating, men are basic.

When Joan was quoting GREAT philosophers and such, she'd quote people she held in high regard; gossip columnists such as Cindy Adams, who was a close friend of Joan's since 1987. She had a great relationship with Liz Smith  and everybody at TMZ & etc. Joan hated the term "gossip columnists" and found it pejorative. One of her FAVORITE columnists of all-time was one from the Houston Chronicle. She & Joan became fast-friends from the moment they met. Joan often quoted her. Shortly after graduating from college and was ready to embark on her professional life, Melissa was given advice from her mom w/ a tear in her eye with an example from this friend of her mother's.

Joan had a belief that kids in their 20s shouldn't play high schoolers on-screen.  As far as Melissa remembers, Joan was always gracious to her fans. Doing what they asked. Every photo & every autograph. Of course, being Edgar & Joan's daughter, their were perks. Joan couldn't stand celebrities who complained about the "burden" of fame. If you want peace & solace, then find it. Joan believed that if you were a star, once you go out in public, you were public property. The only exception is KIDS! The only time Joan refused photos was the first time after Edgar's death. Joan was in protective mode. As Joan got older, she became protective of Cooper as his grandmother. (I asked for this Melissa, Cooper didn't.)

 When Melissa was growing up, she always had a job. Her parents worked, her grandparents worked and so did she. Melissa was taught responsibility at an early age. From the time she could carry a dish without breaking it, it was Melissa's job to clear the table, even though they had professional help; the way it was done in a 5-star restaurant. Clearing and properly cleaning. Melissa had the standard chores as most kids, make the bed, laundry; etc. Joan's technique was unique. (Similiar to something I would do) Point out the advantage to the disadvantage. She always had summer jobs. Melissa's worked the beach crew of the Sand & Sea Crew in Santa Monica.  Another summer job she worked at a retail store; Camp Beverly Hills working the floor doing what was asked. Melissa learned from that job what Joan was trying to teach about cleanliness in her room. To this day, when in a dressing room, Melissa can't help but leave it cleaner than she found it. As a teenager, if she wanted to ride in equestrian events, Melissa had to help working in the barn. If she complained, Joan made sure she learned the value of this responsibility. A small portion would be taken off of her parents bill for her services of course. They were trying to teach their daughter the VALUE of WORK!

Whenever in trouble with one parent, Melissa could go to the other as a teenager. It was a big deal to be on her mother's shitlist. Edgar was a "get out of jail free card" for her. If father/daughter were caught in on a scheme to get Melissa out of trouble, BAM Joan blew that plan ALL TO HELL! Joan & the judge agreed to Melissa's going to traffic school. Joan was a realist who had an understanding of show business & its history. How looks have become "more important" as time passes. From the days of Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall down to those of today's generation. "Looks seem to matter more today than ACTUAL talent as time evolves throughout entertainment history."

What would be seen and the rules from Millionaire Matchmaker's Patti Stanger galled Joan to no end. Joan had pretty much tried to set Melissa up her entire life. One of the biggest wishes Joan had for life was for Melissa to be married and settled down with a good man. Joan was miserable when Melissa was single. Melissa GOT her mother's request. Even though Joan was self-made, she had Edgar by her side. Someone to share her life and grow old with. Joan's search began on Melissa's first day of 3RD grade. What would you want to be when you grow up. Obviously, Melissa was coached in her answers. Since Melissa had steady boyfriends throughout high school and college, and then got married, most of the damage from Joan came after her divorce. Joan tried to set her up and it just never worked.

In Joan's world, being married to a doctor was the ultimate success. In hindsight, Melissa should've seen it coming. In 6TH grade, Joan & Melissa seen a production of Fiddler On The Roof on Broadway. Trying to get Melissa to see the town matchmaker. A foyer into what would've become Melissa's future. When it came to Joan & her purse, always full and rarely emptied, if ever. Going through it was a NIGHTMARE! What inspired Joan to carry a GIANT purse was Felix The Cat. ALWAYS FULL with "Just in case" measures.

When Joan & Melissa created and turned the award show red carpet into THE RED CARPET in 1995, they had NO IDEA they were creating an American brand. They didn't copyright, trademark, brand or even figure out admission. They never thought it would turn into what it has become. They LOVED every minute of every red carpet event and are PROUD to have created it. That year in 1995, they neither had anything going. Joan was between gigs and Melissa had done a talk show pilot that wasn't picked up. Then one of the executives at E! called Joan asking if she wanted to do live interviews at The Golden Globes. Joan took them up on it. They tried with one co-host but it didn't work out. Chemistry was off. When they decided to broadcast the Oscars later that year, Melissa's name had come up.

After the work Melissa's done before within TV, as well as the 2ND choice for what would become The Ricki Lake Show, so Melissa was something of a commodity. The execs at E! called Joan again, this time to ask her if she thought Melissa would be interested in doing the red carpet show with her mother. Next thing you know, bing-bang-boom they were telling the heartwarming story that Joan & Melissa came to be. Melissa did say yes and the wheels got turning. One of the first things to do was figure out what kind of reality show to do. They knew what their options were and what was involved. Try not to make armature mistakes. Part of the reason was that mother/daughter had a natural rhythm. They were a well-known act that people knew as Joan & Melissa. The red carpets became part of their signature.

Joan & Melissa didn't realize the red carpet had become a right of passage for celebrities until Sophia Coppola mentioned it to her at a party at Cannes. Once it became known that mother/daughter red carpet was a destination; not a pit-stop, they were usually available & ready. There were 2 kinds of celebrities who made the red carpet fun: 1. the newbies - ones who had never experienced Hollywood and been there before. 2. The A-Listers who play ball. Ones who enjoy it, but pretend they don't. Julia Roberts & Sarah Jessica Parker were always Joan's favorites. They knew they were there to have fun. There were CLASSIC Joan Rivers moments for them. The only time Joan was speechless was when Denzel Washington came up and talked with her at the Oscars quoting his favorite jokes of her back at her. Hitting Joan that people ACTIVELY watch.

The most difficult celebrities were: 1. 3RD down in an ensemble show or movie. (2. stars who HATE doing the red carpet; but are contractually obligated to do so. Ex. Tommy Lee Jones

Joan's vice in money was expensive jewelry and designer clothes. She took Kenny Rogers' advice about the following:"You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. " Pick your battles in which to fight, Joan knew and taught Melissa when and how to fight for jobs, money and create control. Never burn a bridge while still on it. Joan had little patience for those who are pretentious, and filled with their own self-importance. Know your place. Don't act like your an A+ list likes of Meryl Streep, Robert DeNiro, etc. When you're a lower than D-list porn star that "others" treat as though you're an A when you're WAY MORE FAR OFF than A+ list class. TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT areas. Remember where you came from and how you started. Joan always encouraged Melissa to be herself.

Of all of the shows they've done, none is BIGGER than the Oscars. Oscar night is filled with tension, drama and questions. But there is that one question that TOPS them all: "What's in the swag bag?" Hollywood swag was originally created to lure HIGH A-list celebrities to attend low-profile events. A-List: Robert DeNiro and Julia Roberts, not "luminaries" like Teresa Guidice and a porn-star's family. At some point, the swag bag became a story unto itself, because the fancier and more expensive the gifts were, the more ACTUAL famous stars showed up. Something shiny, people show up. Joan & Melissa couldn't have been happier with its development. An arrangement that was a win-win - until there was a tax in the free stuff they were receiving. And then it was all gone.

Joan on The Ed Sullivan Show
One of Joan's appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1968, she was pregnant with Melissa, but due to broadcasting standards of that time, it was FORBIDDEN to use the term pregnant. How in any other way do you explain a big stomach and maternity dress. When Melissa became pregnant with Melissa with Cooper, she knew telling her mother was going to be a straightforward conversation which was just as well, because it wouldn't have been pretty. Melissa did suffer a miscarriage before Cooper, so when she was pregnant again (with him) , she took ALL precautions. With this pregnancy for Cooper, Melissa figured it was best during a family get-together. Everything was going great when Melissa broke the news to her mom and whispered the news in her mom's ear. Joan was ecstatic in her own way. She swore to keep the news to herself and mother & daughter began to cry. The next week, baby clothes were delivered to her house from friends.

Joan loved Mel Brooks. He & Joan had ALOT in common. They were kindred spirits in comedy. They GOT each other in one another's comedy. Over the past 20 years +; Mel, Joan & George Carlin used to speak out that political correctness was killing comedy. Then came a barrage of "sensitive topics". You can't say this/that. One thing Melissa learned from her mom was that good comedians push boundaries. Joan loved to make an audience squirm. She once said that if a comedian worked for YEARS and hadn't offended anyone, they haven't done their job. Joan, like other GREAT comics, knew where the line was. She KNEW how far to push the envelope. For JOAN, she knew where she could go and where she couldn't. Politics - NO. Politicians - YES!

How much time do you give after a tragedy before jokes can begin? After Edgar committed suicide, despite Melissa's discomfort, the first night Joan went onstage, Edgar's death was "in the act". Joan's timing was very little. She was a comedian, not a poet or social scientist. No matter what or who the subjects were, Joan was always looking for a punch line. She lived for the joke. In the 1970s, she got a lot of press, good/bad, for making weight jokes about the ICONIC Elizabeth Taylor. Joan DID like Elizabeth Taylor. Not only did they work tirelessly together for AIDS research, but they also shared friendships with others. When it comes to weight jokes, if it wasn't Elizabeth Taylor; then Joan moved on to someone. Joan was overweight as a child and viewed herself like that her entire life. While Joan had jokes based on Chaz Bono in her act, she and Cher were always good friends. It always annoyed Joan when she met the people she was poking fun at and ended up
liking them.

Joan didn't like Jay Leno on a personal and professional level. Professionally, she didn't think he was funny and felt he ruined The Tonight Show. Personally, Joan felt that it was unfair and DEEPLY HURTFUL that Leno kept her off the show for over 20 years. After Joan's passing, Jay stated the ban was because he wanted to "honor Johnny's wishes". Joan was FUNNIER and Jay was a pussy. Not changing even after her passing. Jay proved himself at an event where Melissa was asked to speak and Jay was booked to make the welcoming remarks. No less was Melissa 5 ft away from him, not only did he not offer condolences to Melissa, but he wouldn't even make eye contact with her. (What a dick!)

Does anyone remember Joan having a daytime talk show? I do. One that ran for many years in which she won a Daytime Emmy as Best Host. Joan knew what would make for good daytime TV interviews. As much of a public figure as Joan was, she was a bit of a germophobe. Not on a HIGH level, but she was cautious. She carried full-size cans of Lysol in her purse, along with Purell and various wipes. Whenever entering a hotel, Joan would spritz & spray every single surface in the room before taking off her coat and sitting down. At the end of her stay, Joan's room was so clean the maid would leave her a tip. Joan HATED public bathrooms. She was phobic about anybody else's yuckiness. PRIVATE bathrooms only. Joan would try to avoid using public bathrooms at all costs.

Melissa had a horrible pregnancy. Well worth it due to Cooper being her GREATEST gift. Out of ALL of the world's torture that Melissa wouldn't go through again to have a child like Cooper. When she was pregnant, Melissa had beyond morning sickness; sickness 24/7 sickness. In addition to that, Melissa had every complication known-to-man - including an enlarged prostate. Melissa was so sick that she was on total bed rest for most of her pregnancy. To make matters worse, guilt set in for Melissa when bedridden. That was because of Joan's pregnancy with Melissa being easier. Melissa was constantly fighting with her doctor to let her out of bed, out of the house and be productive. Occasionally, they would. Melissa continued to work.

That didn't sit so well with Joan. She didn't think Melissa needed to work so hard. With the family's working nature, Melissa couldn't win for losing for her mother. Joan's TRUTH was that she worked for an hour, maybe, then rested 23 hours in her pregnancy with Melissa. Due to so many complications, Melissa's labor was induced 2 weeks early, Going into labor on Thursday, Melissa worked the Wednesday prior. When giving birth, Melissa blew traditional childbirth out the window and received an epidural A.S.A.P. Years later, Melissa found out Joan had gotten Demerol in an I.V. drug with Melissa' birth. Melissa had given birth to Edgar Cooper Endicott.

Joan's ideology of packing was a science, like physics & chemistry. You could fit virtually anything into a small confound space. Or closet or next to her. You never know what you might need. Joan LOVED to shop. Any & everywhere that she could pull out a credit card and swipe. This bit of shopping sadness far outweighed by the fact that over 20 years +, Joan's travel didn't stop her from finding a place to shop. To a small Jewish-woman with a large purse & deep pockets, duty-free shopping was simply heaven on earth. Joan said that duty-free shops served 2 MAJOR purposes: last-minute gifts for someone to show you thought about them. And carrying a duty-free bag distracts TSA from going through your bags to see what you've REALLY got. As a kid, Melissa didn't have to worry about "stranger danger". She had Joan. Melissa seen her as a Grandma Dingo. Cooper was less than 6 hrs old the first time Joan had tried to make a run with him. She was trying to go to buy a "Grandma Congratulations" card for Melissa to sign. After a huge scare in the hospital, Joan wouldn't let Cooper out of her grip. Cooper was with Joan AT ALL TIMES!

Once they got home, Melissa and Cooper's biological dad, John Endicott, began their journey as parents. Things had changed between Joan having Melissa and Melissa having Cooper. What there is and what you had to do without. Joan adored her grandson. No matter where she was in the world, not a day went by where Joan didn't call, e-mail or text to check in on him and send him her love. Cooper was the true love of Joan's life.

Joan was one who loved to know about murder. Being in the loop of murder & mayhem. Reading books and watching TV shows on the subject. A mother/daughter bonding for Joan & Melissa. Reading TRUE CRIME was a tradition in their home just like holidays. Joan brought true crime to Melissa when she was a kid. There were the traditional stories you read to your kids, but Joan, of course, put a twist on them. Melissa was in 4TH grade when Joan read aloud from In Cold Blood. On the other hand, as Melissa got older and was rebellious, anytime she complained, Joan thought Melissa had it better than the subjects in the books I.D. It was the BODY & BLOOD that intrigued Joan, it was true crime that appealed to her, psychologist chess match. Plus ALL sectors of Law & Order. Of course, I.D. sticks with you mentally. Joan loved sharing her true crime books. Melissa's personal favorite was indeed Gary Ridgeway; the Green River Killer, due to finding his victims in shopping center parking lots. An adieu to Joan's parenting mantra: "Quantity is as important as quality".

There comes a point when an adult child has to start parenting their parent. Parents doing what they want with no regard or repercussions. Melissa reached that point when Joan reached that point in her own life when age was a reason to do as they pleased. Do and say what they wanted without their child's judgment. You could leave your parent to their devices and return with things in disarray. When a parent is caught in trouble, they think they have a reason. A bullshit excuse for their benefit. Joan & Melissa had these type of incidents. There comes a point where even though the parent was wrong in their actions, they blame-shift it to their child as though it was THEIR child's fault. "If you hadn't __, then this wouldn't have happened ."

When a parent raises their child, they do and teach what it takes for them to be a moral and productive member of society. As the mother/child grow older, the rules the parent had laid to their child is thrown completely out the window at the elder parents' benefit. The rules and standards don't seem to matter anymore. Joan would sometimes include Cooper in the mix that would affect the child's routine that a parent had set. A grandmotherly excuse to break the parental rules that the parents have to fix and re-adjust later. Similar to throwing a clean and order office into a party that has to be fixed and cleaned by those who's ACTUAL office it is.

Joan was a TERRIBLE driver. Not for menial infractions; but for mass distractions. Joan's driving was so bad as to create a car pileup on the freeway due to her driving. She had no problem driving with hazardous lights on. EVERY which way you could think of a BAD driver; Joan qualified for each precedence.  Throwing the rules of the road out the window as if they no longer applied. After what Melissa had seen and grew up with, she was VERY CLEAR that Joan was NOT permitted to drive Cooper anywhere. Of course, rules were possibly broken when Melissa was out of town and Joan bribed for her grandson's silence.

Joan was one who loved to do needlepoint. That and I.D. calmed her. She liked to needlepoint pillows that had sayings on them that were either funny or had family meaning. Considering Melissa's Rosenberg family history for keeping secrets, Joan couldn't do it to save her own life. If news was a CONFIDENTIAL and lips were to be sealed SHUT with tape to keep it closed, Joan had a hole in the tape to spill the news! Melissa constantly begged her mom to dial it down and keep things private.

One of Joan's biggest pet peeves was incompetence. People who were bad at their jobs, or were careless drove Joan crazy. She couldn't fathom how people who were bad at their jobs not only got those jobs, but kept them, aside from those whom slept with the boss for their position. In December 2013, Melissa bought her mother a diary while on vacation in Mexico, which became the basis of Joan's book; Diary Of A Mad Diva. Melissa didn't know exactly where Joan's lack of patience with incompetence began, but the first instance she can recall witnessing was sometime in the late 1970s when her parents were out promoting the movie Rabbit Test. Joan was not one to live in the past; in fact, she was one of the most forward-thinking people Melissa ever knew.

Joan was not a curmudgeonly kind of person, but she did believe that, in recent years, basic standards (manners, language, job skills) had dropped, and what in the past would've been considered unacceptable became acceptable today. How many of you are disgusted with what is trashy today and miss what is CLASSY of another time? Joan's hypersensitivity to professional incompetence was due to working in the entertainment industry. What is "FAMOUS" today is detestable to both Joan and others. Joan thought this all the time. She also loathed unfunny comics. She also couldn't stand those who worked to try to be funny. When it was over for what was to be funny, there was no joke or a punchline in the whole show.

Joan HATED rules; specifically rules for her. She had no trouble with others following them. When Melissa was growing up, she broke the rules so often she spent a large portion of her teenage years in her bedroom grounded for some infraction and lying about it. Joan's disdain for rules didn't sit well with a lot of people, particularly those who ran the governments in small countries. Because Joan was in show business and worked under a stage name, her passport had 2 names on it: Joan Rosenberg and "aka Joan Rivers". Completely legit and normal. Although at times it did have trouble. Figuring everybody knew of her duel names and a comedian, Joan thought it was so funny. Although outside countries did not.

Melissa graduated from the University Of Pennsylvania in 1989. Joan was chosen by Melissa's class to share some thoughts with them on Ivy Day. All these years later, what Joan had said stays with their class. What bothered Joan was that the only one to receive an honorary degree wasn't the Ivy Day speaker.

On September 3, 2014, Joan was in Mount Sinai Hospital and in an irreversible coma for a week. The time had come to say goodbye. Melissa invited those who meant the most to Joan to come for one last visit. Melissa focused on making sure they all had time with Joan. The environment was a good distraction for Melissa and it put her into work mode, making her feel helpful rather than useless as she had been feeling the previous week. After everyone's goodbyes, Cooper had private time with his grandmother. Holding her hand, crying as he sat with her. Melissa & Cooper had private time with Joan. When it was time to remove the vent, Joan was surrounded by those whom loved her most and those she loved. Melissa held her mother until she was gone. Joan & Melissa knew and felt their love for one another.

Melissa's first public appearance after her mother's passing in 2014 was a The Hollywood Reporter event. Joan was being honored at the event and Melissa was asked to say a few words which were OVERWHELMINGLY TOUCHING!

Joan Molinsky Rosenberg
(a.k.a. Joan Rivers)

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