Joan Rivers Dies: Entertainment Industry Reactions

By David Bloom, Anthony D'Alessandro

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The search term “RIP Joan Rivers” jumped to the top of Twitter’s trending topics in the U.S. within an hour of the announcement of her death at age 81. Here is what her peers in the entertainment industry are saying:

Barbra Streisand: “I first met Joan Molinsky, that was her real name, when I was 17 years old and we were both in a off-off-Broadway show called Driftwood. She was a real character then and now. I am so upset by her passing. She was too young and had too much to do still.”

Related: Late-Night Hosts Remember Joan Rivers: Video

David Letterman: “Here’s a woman, a real pioneer for other women looking for careers in stand-up comedy. And talk about guts – she would come out here and sit in this chair and say some things that were unbelievable, just where you would have to swallow pretty hard… but it was hilarious… the force of her comedy was overpowering.”

Louis C.K.: “I feel very lucky that I knew Joan Rivers and I feel very sad that she’s gone.  She was a great comedian and a wonderful person.   I never saw someone attack a stage with so much energy.  She was a controlled lightning bolt.  She was a prolific and unpredictable, joyful joke writer.   She loved comedy.  She loved the audience.  She was a great actress and should have done that more.    She loved living and working.  She was kind.  She was real.  She was brave. She was funny and you just wanted to be around her.  I looked up to her.  I learned from her.  I loved her. I liked her.  And I already miss her very much.  It really fucking sucks that she had to die all of a sudden.”

Ryan Seacrest“Joan was a trailblazer in so many ways, and I greatly admired her talent and humor. She was a colleague and friend, as we worked together on E!, and she was also a treasured guest on my radio show many times. Regardless of the forum, Joan was full of funny, witty surprises and she had so much spirit. She will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to Melissa and her family.”

E! and NBC Universal: “E! and NBCUniversal send our deepest condolences to Melissa, Cooper and her entire extended family on this incredibly sad day.  For decades Joan has made people laugh, shattered glass ceilings and revolutionized comedy.  She was unapologetic and fiercely dedicated to entertaining all of us and has left an indelible mark on the people that worked with her and on her legions of fans.  She’s been a much beloved member of the E! family for over 20 years and the world is less funny without her in it.  Today our hearts are heavy knowing Joan will not be bounding through the doors.”

Ken Howard, SAG-AFTRA President: “It’s such a sad day. She was a remarkable woman. I’ll never forget seeing her at Upstairs at the Downstairs in New York many years ago. She didn’t simply break the glass ceiling for female comics – she blew it up while blazing a trail for every comedienne who followed,” said SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard. “She knew the secret to happiness was to make people laugh. Whether she was hosting a talk show, performing stand up or reinventing the red carpet and fashion reporting, Joan was a tireless entertainer, a true performer and a caring philanthropist to the end. Our deepest sympathies and profound condolences go to Joan’s family and to everyone who smiled at, with and because of her.”

Kelly Ripa:  “Joan Rivers was a pioneer in the entertainment industry. Fearless, tireless, and brilliantly funny. I will forever look up to Joan. She was a true friend. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

Comedian David Steinberg“She was one of the best comedy guests Johnny [Carson] ever had…”

Barbara Walters“No one loved life, laughter, and a good time more than Joan. We would have dinner and laugh and gossip and I always left the table smiling.   She was a brassy, often outrageous, and hilarious performer who made millions laugh. In private, she was the picture of elegance and class.  I will miss her.”

Fred Willard: “I worked with her many times on Hollywood Squares. She was so funny, so kind and always ready to help.  She was a joke machine! A hard worker, a great friend and a wonderful mother. I will miss her.”

Amy Poehler: “What a full life. Every woman in comedy is indebted to her. She was there at the beginning and funny to the end. RIP Joan.”

Photo Gallery of Joan Rivers over the years: 

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