Stars come out in New York to bid farewell to Joan Rivers

Private funeral takes place at a synagogue in Manhattan

Family and friends bade farewell to Joan Rivers, the outspoken comedian who became famous around the world for her acerbic wit and brash style, at a private funeral yesterday in Manhattan.

Journalists Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, comedian Whoopi Goldberg, tycoon Donald Trump, actress Sarah Jessica Parker and comedian Kathy Griffin were among the celebrities who attended the service at a synagogue on Fifth Avenue where Rivers (81) was a member of the congregation.

As guests exited to the sound of bagpipes, and some mingled and hugged, many hundreds of fans, along with dozens of reporters, photographers and television crews waited behind barricades to get a glimpse of Rivers’ friends and family, including her daughter Melissa.

The sharp-tongued, Brooklyn-born comedian who jokingly wrote about wanting an elaborate funeral, died on Thursday at the New York hospital she had been rushed to a week earlier. She was put on life support after she had stopped breathing during an outpatient procedure at a medical clinic.



The cause of death was still unknown pending further tests, according to New York City Medical Examiner’s Office. The State Health Department was investigating the Yorkville Endoscopy Center where she was treated. It is reviewing documents and interviewing staff and physicians at the clinic which opened last year.

During a career that spanned more than 50 years, Rivers was known for her raspy voice, many cosmetic procedures and the catchphrase “Can we talk?”. No topic or person was off-limits and she was never apologetic about what she said. She attributed her success to saying what everyone else was thinking.

Tributes poured in from around the world from, for example, Britain’s prince Charles and Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu.

Rivers originally wanted to be an actress. She started as a comedy writer before doing stand-up. She worked her way up to regular guest host for Johnny Carson on NBC's popular The Tonight Show.

Carson and Rivers had a falling-out when she started her own late-night talk show in 1986 on the rival Fox network. Her show was cancelled within a year due to low ratings. A few months later, her husband and manager committed suicide.

Most recently, she hosted Fashion Police, commenting on the attire of Hollywood celebrities. – (Reuters)