As Hollywood mourned the death of Joan Rivers, who passed away yesterday at 81, I appreciated the opportunity to recount how she pulled off Hollywood’s greatest comeback, by clawing her way back into the spotlight after Johnny Carson had turned his back on her. As I wrote at Quartz,
Rivers also discovered that once you’ve survived Carson’s wrath, you can survive anything Hollywood can dish out. Who cared if Sharon Stone or Kristen Stewart got offended by her red carpet quips? So what if people thought she had too much plastic surgery? There was nothing anyone could say about Rivers that the comedian couldn’t say herself — and much, much funnier.
While Rivers is rightfully being lauded for her work as a trailblazer for female comics, her journey after being blackballed by Carson was equally spectacular. Farewell, Joan.