Illustration by Hilton Dresden.
In her dishy new biography Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers (Little, Brown and Company), Leslie Bennetts details the late comedy queen’s dizzying highs (Emmy wins, peerless one-liners) and devastating lows (her husband’s suicide). Here, some choice revelations.
1. When auditioning for the Chicago improv comedy troupe the Second City in 1961, Rivers broke down, screaming at the casting panel and throwing an ashtray across the room. She was accepted.
2. She auditioned for The Tonight Show seven or eight times before finally landing a regular guest spot that would catapult her career.
3. She cheated on her husband repeatedly and claimed to have had a one-night stand with Johnny Carson. (His camp denied it.)
4. While touring, Rivers would fly in from anywhere to attend school events for her daughter, Melissa. She was even a Brownie Troop Mom.
5. She struggled with anorexia for years, living off of little more than Altoids and wine.
6. After seeing a waitress being mistreated in a Vegas restaurant, Rivers treated her and her fiancé to a lavish wedding shower—and invited them to dinner once a year after that.
7. Howard Stern opened her funeral with the line, “Joan Rivers had a dry pussy.”
Last Girl Before Freeway is out November 15. Pre-order it here.
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