Sunday, September 7, 2014

Joan Rivers

In “I Hate Everyone … Starting With Me,” Rivers also quipped that dying of natural causes wasn’t for her. “If you're going to die, die interesting! Is there anything worse than a boring death? I think not."

Friends and family of comedy legend Joan Rivers gathered today to say goodbye, while fans are still leaving an ever growing memorial outside her Upper East Side apartment building. I cannot imagine the world without Joan Rivers. She has ALWAYS been a part of my life.One of my regrets is that I never got to interview her. I did interview one of her top writers, Tony Tripoli, in March of 2012.
As Emma G. FITZSIMMONS and JAMES BARRON wrote in the New York Times today, "For the comedian Joan Rivers, no occasion was off-limits, not even her own funeral."
This was written by Cindy Adams in The New York Post.
The New York City Gay Men's Chorus sang "Big Spender" at Joan Rivers' memorial service (as well as "What A Wonderful World" and "There Is Nothing Like A Dame."

When her, autobiography, Enter Talking, came out, I couldn't put it down.
It was one of the first books that I read that spoke directly to me as an artist.
It covers the early struggles of Joan's career up to the point where Johnny Carson announced on national TV that she was going to be a star.
Who would have guessed that years later, he would slam the door in her face and never speak to her again which broke her heart. Struggles would begin all over again and she would once again claw her way back to the top of the ladder. Part of that process brought her to Broadway as Linda Lavin's replacement in Broadway Bound.

I was lucky enough to see her in this role. I still vividly see her in my mind's eye constantly dusting and cleaning her prized possession, her dining room table. I don't think most people are aware of what a great actress she was. I was so taken by her performance by writing her a letter telling her that if she had opened in this role, the Tony would be on her mantle.
I wish I still had the wonderful letter that she sent back to me. She told me how much it meant to her at this point in her life.
As much as I loved Joan, I never caught her club act live which I understand pushed ALL boundaries.
We met twice. When MAC (the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) presented Jan Wallman, who gave Joan a chance early in Joan's career,  with a MAC Award in 2007, Joan was their to present it to her. Lee Roy Reams and I presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to our dear friend, Dody Goodman. It was Dody's last public appearance.

Joan bowing to Jan Wallman for believing in her at the beginning of her career
Joan was so gracious and wonderful to be with backstage, trying to put the focus on everyone around her instead of herself. She was there to honor Jan Wallman, this evening wasn't about her.
Once I was having dinner at Joe Allen's with Ray Jessel, who wowed the world recently with his appearance on America's Got Talent.
Joan came in looking stunning as always. Ray commented that they knew each other from their earliest days with they were struggling to get known. I told him he should go over and say hello.
He commented that he didn't want to bother her. He didn't have to. As soon as she spotted him, she came across the room excited to see an old friend. 
Signing on the "Diary" entry on my birthdate

I was lucky enough to be at her book signing in June for Diary of a Mad Diva, sitting in the front row, thanks to Barnes and Noble's Steven Sorrentino. It was a standing room only crowd. She walked into a packed room that covered all nationalities (their was a family directly behind us from Australia), age groups, gay and straight...their were NO barriers and no specific demographic.
She owned that room the moment she walked through those doors. She took questions from the audience and was hilarious with every response.
Jed Ryan, Joan, and Joseph Aiello (Photo courtesy: Jason Russo/HeyMrJason Photography)

She handled PETA protesters with, believe it or not, CLASS and aplomb. She even officiated a same sex marriage for my friends Jed Ryan and Joseph Aiello, a memory they will always cherish.
Leaving that day, I never envisioned for a moment that I would never see her again. Yet another reminder of Carpe Diem.
In Joan's ground breaking documentary, A Piece of Work, we all got a real glimpse of what her work world was.
The idea of an empty day on her calendar was petrifying. When she went into cardiac arrest over a week ago, she had a full calendar according to her website.
Here are a few anecdotes, memories, and highlights of an amazing life. Joan you touched us ALL!
I won't say Goodbye! I'll say "Till Next Time". Keem em laughing up there!
Joan Rivers interviewing Lucille Ball.

Everyone who knew her felt like she was their
naughty Auntie Mame. I love that line because that's really how she was helping people encouraging people so kind, fun and generous. Most of all for Joan, life really was one big banquet. I sure as hell will miss her...
Holly Faris 

 "Today was one of the saddest and most memorable days of my life...attending the funeral of my dear, sweet funny friend, Joan Rivers. Her friendship had tremendous effect on my life decisions, my philanthropy and my worldview of humanism, but slap helped remind me how lucky I am to have my Mark as my husband and best friend. Her depth of character was as limitless as her humor, and I will honor hr memory the rest of my life. Good bye, dear friend, and write new material wherever you are!"
 Paul Sibley-Schreiber

 Groundbreaking,fearless,activist,entrepreneur,outspoken,hysterically funny,mentor,pioneer. Off stage/camera: kind hearted , sensitive ,caring ,thoughtful , loyal,devoted mom and grandma .  Those are some of the things I can about Joan Rivers . It was a beautiful service today for an icon . We cried , we laughed , and reminisced . The who's who of New Yorkers came out to pay respects to a great lady .
   I have worked for over 30 yrs impersonating Joan . I have also has the honor to have been personally chosen to work side by side with her while impersonating her . She has been so supportive , and so thrilled about my work as her. She always treated me like an equal.She did benefits for AIDS long before any other celebrity even thought of it . Her charity ''God's Love We Deliver '' has fed thousands of people in need of a meal . She paved the way for female stand ups. No other stand up has impacted the art like she did . 50 yrs of one liners , and was still going strong .Thanks for touching so many lives , Joan .
Gary Dee

From Stephen Artist: RIP Joan Rivers!!! I saw her onstage only one time but it is indelibly marked in my memory. It was at the Playboy Club in Beverly Hills. 
10 Serious Things we should know about Joan Rivers
My former and our friend, Steve went to see her perform there. She walked on stage took a breath and talked non-stop for 45 minutes before exhaling. I think everyone in that audience was exhausted by the time her set was finished. She did it all and I think that the entertainment business was brighter and livelier because of her. She challenged and she shocked but always made us laugh while doing it. She will be missed.

My friend Lee Day sent me this very special tribute.
Joan called me two and a half weeks ago was going to take her and her dogs to the Morristown Jewish Deli Dog Café inew jersey. She couldn't wait.
Joan loved Rabbi Otis. She always said he was the cutest little rabbi! She would go on Rabbi
Joan with friend Lee Day
Otis' page and comment almost every day. Joan would not want us to be sad. 

From cabaret entertainer Maria Ottavia: 
My memories of Joan Rivers. I was with my best friend Seth. We both wanted to be on Broadway. Brighton Beach Memoirs was on Broadway. Joan Rivers was outside the theatre walking her dog. She was in costume outside the stage door.
She was very nice. We said hi and told her how much we love her.
We did not want to take much of her time. She is a very nice lady
I still cannot believe Joan is gone.

From Bryon Sommers:
In the early 90s when I was playing at the Westbury Hotel in the Polo Lounge, Joan was living there as her apartment was being renovated to her liking.. Joan would often times come around 1030 at night after having been out on the town and sit down for a nightcap or for a glass of wine. she would often request a song or two. I'll never forget one night she came by the piano,stoppedthere and said, "I could listen to you all night but I have to get up in the morning and do the show.. " That was when she had her daytime television show. She was such a warm and caring person. When I saw her again recently she remembered me from those days  which it was very nice of her to do so. 
Today a very kind , caring, warm, sweet and funny lady is sent off being honored by close friends and family. I was so happy that I saw her one last time and shared a quick tete a tete. So to Joan I say now what she wrote to me, "Great to see you again. Good luck" Bryon

From Daniel Kruger: My personal memory was sitting next to her on the American Airlines mid morning flight LAX to JFK.  
I said hello as she took her seat and then minded my own business, only interacting with the flight attendant. About 90 minutes after we left the gate she turned to me and said, "hi, I'm Joan.  Do you have a name and do you speak?"  I told her that I did not want to bother her.  She was very kind. She asked me what was bringing me to New York and added, "Let me guess, this god damn plane."  There was a small bit of polite chit chat and the airline had recently changed uniforms and she asked the flight attendant why they keep on changing uniforms if they always say the are broke. 
The flight attendant burst out into laughter.

From Susan Classen: Although I had been a lifelong fan, I first met Joan in 2008. It was a dream come true. She had been performing her brilliant show  A WORK IN PROGRESS BY A LIFE IN PROGRESS. We would overlap a week at The Leceister Square Theatre where my show A CONVERSATION WITH EDITH HEAD was having its London debut. We met entering the theatre, she was in rehearsal and I in performance. On our final Friday evening, she discreetly came in to see the last few minutes of the show. She and "Edie" chatted about their time together, Mae West and the other shared celebrities. The next day, the theatre manager came and asked if we could do an additional performance so Joan and Co could see the entire show. In our minds "The Queen" had requested a command performance. So, Joan after doing two shows herself came to a 10:30 PM performance.  It was extraordinary.  She gifted "Edie" a saucy apron that she had picked up in Soho.The next morning this letter was delivered. It is something that I will treasure always. Her gracious and generous heart extended beyond any professional courtesy. She remained a staunch supporter of our show and always greeted me as if I was a close personal friend. I realized how in many ways Edith's life paralleled Joan's life. They both succeeded in a man's world by playing the game better than anyone -  reinventing themselves to remain relevant and always investing back - always.  I know how much she touched my life but to think I touched her life in some way fills me with enormous gratitude.  When the invitation arrived for the memorial there was no question, i would get on a plane and pay my respects in person to this phenomenal woman. Brava Joan, a blessed memory.

Thank you Joan Rivers for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,

If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Lucie Arnaz's opening night at Rainbow and stars.

Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
Richard Skipper Celebrates

Richard Skipper,


  1. Lovely Richard, very much enjoyed reading...

  2. Wonderful Richard, as expected x

  3. Morning Joe did a piece on Joan Rivers' funeral that reported the audience if you can call a group of mourners an audience - gave her a standing ovation. goosebumps.

  4. Beautiful tribute to a wonderful woman! We will miss her so much!

  5. Lovely and beautiful tribute page, Richard, thank you!! As you know my career began when Joan gave me my first big break at 22. She was beyond legendary!
    Ilan Kwittken

  6. Just beautiful! I really did not know how much I would miss., but there are loots & lots of good memories.

  7. What a lovely blog and tribute to Joan!! Thank you, Richard! Amazing memories and appreciated!

  8. Fantastic tribute to a remarkable woman. You captured her spirit in pictures and words very well Richard.