Rivers, who died at 81 Sept. 4, a week after complications and cardiac arrest occurred from a seemingly routine throat procedure, was remembered at a private funeral today in Manhattan that attracted notables from across the many worlds she inhabited and influenced, including television, comedy, fashion, theater and beyond.
Radio shock jock Howard Stern reportedly gave the eulogy at the Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan, in which he said he hoped that “Joan is somewhere chasing Johnny Carson with a baseball bat.” His sometimes bawdy, joke-filled and heartfelt eulogy included him calling Rivers a “friend to the world.”
Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, along with TV anchor Deborah Norville, friend Margie Stern, and columnist Cindy Adams also delivered reminiscences and tributes to Rivers, a pioneering female comic who persevered through remarkable obstacles to find great success on air and beyond.
Among those reportedly attending were Kathy Griffin, Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, Kelly Osbourne, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Susan Claassen and Dr. Mehmet Oz. From the theater world, Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming and Tommy Tune were present, along with TV personalities (including several other pioneers) such as Barbara Walters, Geraldo Rivera, Diane Sawyer, and Kathie Lee Gifford. The event even drew media moguls Barry Diller and Steve Forbes, along with Donald Trump.
The funeral program included a page with three classic Rivers lines: “Can we talk?” `’Who are you wearing?” and “Because I’m a funny person.” It also recounted her wishes for her funeral as detailed in her 2008 book, I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me: Instead of a rabbi, she wanted a ceremony that was “Hollywood all the way,” with “Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents” and “a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyonce’s.”
It might not have been quite all that, but it sounds like it came pretty darned close, which maybe is all a pioneer can ask for.