Unabashedly Joan Rivers: Carving a Path for Women

JRandMR1.jpgI cannot imagine a woman that deserves more accolades and praise than the incomparable Joan Rivers. If someone scripted a life for a woman that included the most difficult roadblocks and truly insurmountable challenges – and overcoming the odds – it was Joan Alexandra Molinsky. Born in 1933 in Brooklyn to Russian Jewish immigrants at time when antisemitism was hitting a fever pitch in the U.S. as well as Europe, Rivers no doubt had some prejudices openly targeted at her and her family. By the time she was a teen, the second World War had to have made it worse.

Still, she went on to graduate from Barnard College Phi Beta Kappa in 1954 with a degree in English Literature and Anthropology! In 1947 only 12.2 percent of women were enrolled in college. Joan was one of them. At that time, only about 6 percent of women had Bachelor’s degrees. Joan was one of them. In the 1950s, 70 percent of “all employed women were working in clerical positions, on factory assembly lines or in the service industry.” Joan Rivers worked at “various jobs such as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center, a writer/proofreader at an advertising agency[and a fashion consultant at Bond Clothing Stores.”

One of Joan’s first appearances on stage was in a play called Driftwood where she played opposite Barbra Streisand and a lesbian crush! That was in 1950. She became famous after she appeared on The Tonight Show in 1965. Her humor was far from what was expected from a lady.  Her career had it’s ups and downs, but she continued to reinvent herself over the years and even after her husband committed suicide, she was still able to bounce back and carry on.

She was publicly devoted to her daughter, Melissa. She worked with her on several programs on television and clearly respected and adored her.

I can’t possibly write all that should be said about Ms. Joan Rivers. I would have to go on for days, but I will leave you with this one thought about this wonderful woman. Remember to live your life on your terms.

I think fellow comedian Erma Bombeck said it best, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.

Dame Joan Rivers surely did just that!