Joan Rivers (1933–2014)
Comedy legend Joan Rivers ripped through the comedy world with her razor-sharp jokes and self-deprecating humor. Though sometimes criticized for tearing down other women to get a laugh, her no-holds-barred approach to humor paved the way for generations of female comedians. Born in Brooklyn in 1933, Rivers began doing comedy as a way to fund her acting career. In the 1980s she became a permanent guest host on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, later branching off to host the first female late-night talk show—The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Though her involvement with the show led to a falling out with Carson, Rivers went on to win an Emmy and secure her legacy as a red-carpet and comedic icon.
This feature originally appeared in the Play issue. For more inspiring stories from that issue, check out Playing Dress-Up Was My Job … So Who Was I? and Happy Hour with Ivy Mix.