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Published: Thursday, 11/10/2005

Versatile Rivers loves laughter

Joan Rivers, named to Comedy Central s list of top comedians
of all time, will bring her brash act to Tiffin on Sunday.
Joan Rivers, named to Comedy Central s list of top comedians of all time, will bring her brash act to Tiffin on Sunday.
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Tart-tongued comedian Joan Rivers has reinvented herself more times than most anyone in show business, both in terms of her appearance and in the myriad twists and turns of a four-decade career.

She's made no secret of the numerous plastic surgeries she's undergone to try to retain a more youthful look, and she's acted on Broadway and Hollywood, written books and movies, hosted several TV talk shows, and become a fixture on television's QVC channel, where she hawks her own line of costume jewelry.

And through it all, she's continued performing stand-up comedy across the United States and abroad.

The 72-year-old entertainer brings her brash manner and outspoken humor to northwest Ohio Sunday night for an appearance at Tiffin's Ritz Theatre.

Born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents who had immigrated from Russia, Joan Molinsky attended Barnard College, where she earned a degree in English and anthropology. After short stints at a couple of upscale clothing stores, she began doing stand-up comedy in clubs

By the 1960s she was appearing on The Tonight Show, where she would go on to become Johnny Carson's permanent guest host. She made guest appearances on various TV comedy and variety shows, and wrote and directed a movie, Rabbit Test, which starred her friend Billy Crystal.

But by the mid-'80s, things started to go wrong for Rivers. She did land her own evening talk show on the new Fox network, but Carson was so upset by her move that he never spoke to her again, and she no longer appeared on his program.

Within a year, her own show was canceled, the entertainment industry turned its back on her, and her husband and producer of 22 years, Edgar Rosenberg, committed suicide.

Rivers withdrew from show business for a time, but eventually she returned with appearances on Broadway and a daytime talk show. She wrote a pair of candid autobiographical books, Enter Talking and Still Talking, both of which were best-sellers. She also began lecturing around the country on suicide prevention.

In recent years, Rivers and her daughter Melissa have hosted E! Entertainment Television's live pre-show commentary for the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards, doing quick interviews with stars on the red carpet, then offering critiques of the stars' glitzy outfits. Last year they left E! and took their routine to the new TV Guide Channel.

On QVC, her "Joan Rivers Collection" of jewelry has become one of the shopping network's best-selling lines, and she recently started a talk show in Great Britain.

But Rivers is still a stand-up comic at heart. In recognition of her long and successful career, she was named recently to Comedy Central's list of the Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of All Time (No. 44).

Comedian Joan Rivers will appear Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Ritz Theatre, 30 South Washinton St., Tiffin. Tickets range from $26 to $66. Information: 419-448-8544 or www.ritztheater.org.



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