Joan Rivers was more than a legendary comedian; she was an icon and a role model to millions, a fearless pioneer who left a legacy of expanded opportunity when she died in 2014. Read more...
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Joan Rivers was more than a legendary comedian; she was an icon and a role model to millions, a fearless pioneer who left a legacy of expanded opportunity when she died in 2014. Her life was a dramatic roller-coaster of triumphant highs and devastating lows: the suicide of her husband, her feud with Johnny Carson, her estrangement from her daughter, her many plastic surgeries, her ferocious ambition and her massive insecurities. But Rivers' career was also hugely significant in American cultural history, breaking down barriers for her gender and pushing the boundaries of truth-telling for women in public life.
A juicy, intimate biography of one of the greatest comedians ever-a performer whose sixty year career was borne, simply, out of a desire to make people laugh so she could feel loved-LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY delves into the inner workings of a woman who both reflected and redefined the world around her.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-09-12
- Reviewer: Staff
This comprehensive biography painstakingly charts the late Joan Riverss journey from growing up in Westchester, N.Y., feeling not at all pretty (the title of the book refers to a joke about how her mother hoped to pawn her off on a man, any man, who passed through town) to succeeding in comedy and becoming a veritable polymath of the business and entertainment worlds. Through interviews with family, staff, and comedy insiders, Vanity Fair contributing editor Bennetts (The Feminine Mistake) draws a portrait of the groundbreaking comedienne that is both deep and sweeping. She fact-checks Rivers on her own anecdotes, noting, for example, that she probably never met Marilyn Monroe, despite titling one of her books after a supposed conversation in which the actress told Rivers, Men are stupid... and they like big tits. Sometimes the portrait turns unsavory. Laughter gave Rivers power, which she was not afraid to wield against other women whom she saw as her rivals. She was the first to ask stars on the red carpet Who are you wearing?, a line of questioning resisted today by feminists for its lack of substance. Scared of losing it all, she stockpiled fancy china and Manolo Blahnik shoes. But Bennetts isnt overly critical of Rivers, focusing also on her good deeds for the little peoplelike sending a badge from her TV show Fashion Police to a young fanand her drive to succeed in a comedy world dominated by men. Bennettss reporting gives readers unparalleled access to her subject, which comedy fans, and those just fascinated by superstardom, will greatly enjoy. (Nov.)