Joan Alexandra Molinsky (June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014), known professionally as Joan Rivers, was an American comedian, actress, writer, producer, and television host. She was noted for her often controversial comedic persona—heavily self-deprecating or sharply acerbic, especially toward celebrities and politicians.
In addition to marketing a line of jewelry and apparel on the QVC shopping channel, Rivers authored 12 best-selling books and three LP comedy albums under her own name: Mr. Phyllis And Other Funny Stories (Warner Bros 1965), The Next To Last Joan Rivers Album (Buddah 1969), and What Becomes A Semi-Legend Most? (Geffen 1983). She was nominated in 1984 for a Grammy Award for her album What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most?; and was nominated in 1994 for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance of the title role in Sally Marr ... and Her Escorts. In 2015, Rivers posthumously received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for her book, Diary of a Mad Diva.
In 1968, The New York Times television critic Jack Gould called Rivers "quite possibly the most intuitively funny woman alive". In 2017, Rolling Stone magazine ranked her sixth on its list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time, and in October the same year, she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
Joan Alexandra Molinsky was born on June 8, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian Jewish immigrants Beatrice (née Grushman) and Meyer C. Molinsky,. She had an elder sister named Barbara Waxler. Rivers spent her early life in Prospect Heights and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, where she attended the progressive and now-defunct Brooklyn Ethical Culture School and Adelphi Academy of Brooklyn, a college preparatory day school, where she was co-chairman of her school, due to her past experiences in theatrical activities. Within 2 years, she performed in the School Cavalcades, and in 1949, aged 16, she was vice president of the Dramatic Club. She graduated from the Adelphi Academy of Brooklyn, in 1950, at almost 17. In her adolescence, Rivers relocated with her family to Larchmont, north of New York City. Rivers stated in interviews that she was overweight throughout her childhood and adolescence, and that it had a profound impact on her body image, which she would struggle with throughout her life.