But part of what has kept Rivers going is her ability to tune her act to the times. Her performance stamina is impressive for any age, but she can truly out-shock any shock comic with her material, which deals as breezily with child molestation as it does with Anne Frank’s defiled corpse.
She won host Johnny Carson as a fan, and even guest-hosted the show, but heard whispers that she’d never make the cut to replace Carson when he retired. In 1986, she severed ties with “Tonight” and headed for her own show on Fox, but it went down the drain after only six months on the air.
She became a television outcast. “No one would touch me,” she has said. “I couldn’t get a spot on television, and some of the big clubs where I’d performed for years suddenly wouldn’t book me.”
Even worse, the cancellation of the show sent her husband-slash-manager, Rosenberg, into a downward spiral.
The following year, after phoning their daughter Melissa at college, Rosenberg took a combination of Valium, Librium and alcohol and ended his life. (…)
Then, she painstakingly rebuilt her career with a daytime talk show, a Broadway play, and hosting red carpet events among other projects.
Even when the parent company of her jewelry line went bust in the ‘90s, she couldn’t be stopped.
She worked off some $37 million in debt and, only years later, her sales on QVC were bringing in quadruple that amount annually