Plastic Surgery Addict Joan Rivers Unmasked

Jan 23, 2006
New York New York

Ever-youthful 73-yr-old Joan Rivers has always felt insecure about her looks

Joan Rivers with Tanya Gold

Joan Rivers is running round TopShop, perched on giant stilettos and holding a tissue to her curious, surgically-enhanced face because she has a cold.

Joan has poured make-up all over herself, and her nose points violently — and unnaturally — upwards. She is 73, but there isn't a wrinkle on her, and she has the soft, glowing cheeks of a teenager. Noses like Joan's don't exist in nature — only plastic surgeons make noses like that.

So why is an ageing Hollywood comedienne scurrying round a teenage fashion mecca? She's borrowing ideas for the jewellery line she has on a TV shopping channel.
"I always go and see the latest jewellery trends," she says, fighting through the crowds. "So what are they wearing this year?" she asks herself out loud, peering at the TopShop jewellery. Joan is in Britain to judge the Miss Great Britain contest tonight, and she is evidently enjoying leading her entourage round the capital.

She drags me out into Oxford Circus, and into a builders' cafe, where her gang cause a mini riot.
When we are settled into a booth, I set about peeling away the mask that successive surgeons have worked so hard to create.
Who is Joan Rivers really — and has her character changed with her appearance? If so, what's she trying to hide?
Let's start at the beginning. She was born Joan Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York, to a respectable Russian Jewish family.
She studied English at university, and in her 20s married her first husband Jimmy Sanger, the son of a department store manager. Six months later she realised she wasn”t born to be a housewife and junked him.
When she announced to her father, a doctor, that she wanted to become a comedienne he threatened to have her committed.
"I came from a very upwardly mobile, education orientated family," she says. "When I said I wanted to be an actress, my father was very upset." But she did it anyway and when the world applauded so, eventually, did her parents.
She hit the New York comedy circuit in the Sixties, along with Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand and Lenny Bruce, and was penniless for years "starving and working in strip joints and clubs" before she made it.
"I never knew I had a gift," she says, speaking very fast in her gravelly New York rasp. "I knew I wanted to be in the business. Making money never entered into it, ever. Now I think of money every day."
Her QVC jewellery range on TV has made her millions and she lives the fantasy life with a fabulous apartment — apparently a mini Versailles — in New York, an idyllic weekend place in Connecticut, servants, designer clothes and lap dogs.
Her big break was on the Johnny Carson show in 1965 and by the early 1980s she was his co-host, America's rudest, wittiest woman.
"Iron your face," she said to Mick Jagger. Or: "Joan Collins isn't here. She's being carbon dated."

Then in 1987, nemesis struck her tiny frame. By then she had married London-born Edgar Rosenberg, a producer on her TV show.
One day, in a mire of depression, he killed himself at the age of 62, just three days after she left him because she was unhappy in the marriage. The night he died, she was having liposuction.
Her abandonment of him was, she says, "one of the reasons" for his death. The nose emerges from the tissues, and she adds:
"It was one of the major knocks of my life, and also the cause of one of my emotional growth spurts. I learned that I could be on my own and have a new way of life. But the guilt never goes."
Guilty or not, she was quick to incorporate the suicide into her comedy act; standing on the stage at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas just three months later, joking:
"Thank God my husband said in his will that I should cremate him and then scatter his ashes in Neiman Marcus (a department store). That way he knew he would see me five times a week."

Her peculiar way of dealing with grief led to a rift with her only child, Melissa — now in her 30s and her daughter by Edgar — a TV presenter and single mother to Joan's grandson Cooper. It was a long time before it healed.
So why did she turn her husband's suicide into a joke?
"I laugh at everything," Joan says. "It is all about laughing at the worst." I suggest that many comedians are depressives, making us giggle so we never learn the truth about their intense self-loathing. "They are not so much sad as angry about everything," she says. "Funny people are very angry people. And they turn their anger into funny."
Jan 23, 2006
New York New York
Where does the anger inside Joan Rivers come from?
"Look around," she says. "I am not a supermodel. I am not the one the men fall hopelessly in love with. I did not come from the lucky sperm club with all the money."
Is that why she has had so much work done? How ugly was the teenage Joan Rivers — or rather, how ugly did she think she was?
Has she spent her whole life — and a chunk of her fortune — trying to be somebody else?
"I was not the prettiest girl in the class," she admits. "I was a very ordinary girl.
"If you come from my family your mother tells you over and over again that you are the most beautiful and wonderful thing and suddenly you go to school and you realise you're a pig."
Andso she set out to remake her face, although she claims Hollywood is full of new faces. "An albatross around my neck," she calls it — she is the only one who's honest about it.
"I have done what everyone does in California," she says. "Goldie Hawn has a totally different face from when she started."
She doesn't give me time to digest this thought. "I believe in plastic surgery," she says.
"Eventually," she points at me, "you will look in the mirror and you will know. You will hit 40 and say, 'that isn't quite right'." Then, with an evangelical zeal she adds: "Anyone out there who thinks they don't like their nose? Do something about it! You go through life once. Fix your teeth.'

Now she sounds like Elizabeth Arden crossed with Joseph Stalin, manning the surgical barricades — nuts, but utterly compelling.
"My motto is 'better a new face coming out of an old car than an old face coming out of a new car'. Spend your money on you."
And she has: an eye tuck, two facelifts, at least one nose job and enough Botox to refreeze the northern ocean.
Now, she says, her plastic surgeon Steve sends her away when she bangs on the door of his office demanding yet more procedures. "He will say: 'You don't need anything. Go home.'"
But will she have more?
"Probably, if I need it," she says. 'You want to look as good as you can. We all want to look at attractive people. It's a business."
Does she remember what she used to look like? Who was the teenage girl in the mirror?
She peers at me, a bit crossly, and waves her arms. "They all recognise me at the class reunion," she cracks.
But when she is alone, away from the TV cameras and the adulation, does the chubby teenager surface once more?
She admits now that she is "naturally depressed".
"The glass is always half empty," she says. "And there is a hole in the bottom."
I repeat Woody Allen's line about his glass being half full, of poison. She loves it.

"I don't think any comedian is any other way," she says. "I go into very dark moods. When I am alone I am very quiet."
She stares out of the window, her face flat and unanimated in repose, and then she recovers.
"I think we all have too much time," she says. "I think that if I have time to figure out that I am not as happy as I should be when I am sitting in a beautiful apartment and my daughter is fine and my grandson is wonderful and I have two dogs and lots of friends, what am I complaining about?”
She orders a turkey sandwich but she doesn”t eat it, instead she waves it at her entourage in the next booth, begging them to eat it and finally, reluctantly, she nibbles a bit of meat.
I decide Joan Rivers has the soul of a Jewish mother and the face of a second wife.
She is fiercely proud of herself under her make-up, and she should be: most great comics kill themselves (Lenny Bruce), go into therapy (John Cleese) or just stop being funny (nearly everyone else).
But not Joan, she lays out her gags like landmines and despite her cold she is freshly mown and electrically funny.
"I like Mother Teresa," she ponders, when I ask her who her heroes are. "But I think she could have picked better shoes."
When I ask her if she will ever retire from being funny, she says:
"And do what? Make my friends laugh? Travel around and pay for it myself?
"I am here," she gestures around, "and someone is paying for it. I am doing what I love. I am an adventuress. I love going into the unknown. I get bored very easily." She finishes nibbling the turkey, scoops me up and we are off again, out of the cafe and into a gleaming people wagon, where we continue the interview all the way to the Ritz Hotel.
She tells me she doesn't have a lover just now. She stopped seeing "a very nice man who just wasn”t for me" a few months ago.
"You reach an age and you say: 'Am I with this person because I am having a good time with him, or because I just don't want to be alone?'" And either answer is fine."

She has two beloved dogs, called Lulu and Max, rescued from the dog pound, because she is tender hearted. "I love dogs," she says. "They are so easy to impress." And her hobby — between surgical procedures — is painting.
"I paint terrible pictures of the Caribbean. I have been painting for ten years and not once has a friend asked for one, never," she says giggling.
She is an also an adoring grandmother to Cooper, although she says, with the truthfulness that makes her money: "I didn't like being a grandmother when he was an infant. I found him very boring."
She also does a lot for charity, though as with everything else in her life, turns it into a she gag.
"People make their children stand next to me at funerals," she says, "hoping I will pay for their college education."
Controlling, and in control of her life, she has even planned a fantasy funeral for the day her corpse will be pushed behind the crematorium curtains.
"I have a fantasy funeral where my daughter Melissa turns away all the sons of b*****s that I don't like," she says. "It will be invitation only. But," and here is the inevitable joke, "I really don't know who I will still be talking to in 3007.
"I know how lucky I am," she says. "Anyone who doesn't like being famous is a fool. Three people just came over and said I made them happy. What is there not to like?"
If it was all taken away tomorrow and thrown into the fame dustbin and she had to be a real old lady, she says she would 'miss it tremendously'.
"I've had 35 years of it. I love that you can reach people. You can walk down the street and say hello to a lot of people and they don't think you are a hooker."
She says goodbye, hugging me and pulling the necklaces off her throat and hanging them on me.
"You don't need plastic surgery yet," she says. "You're too young. Wait until you are 40."
She insists her driver will take me home and totters off into the Ritz on those enormous stilettos, smiling at everybody, overexcited by her life, shouting her good fortune as if she is still not quite sure she is heard; by the car, in the coffee shop, in the suite at the Ritz, an ugly girl from Brooklyn, and still the talk of the town.

Story by Tanya Gold. The Dailymail


Louis Vuitton Addict
Oct 30, 2006
I can see how she uses comedy as a coping mechanism but also understand why her daughter would have been mad!
She is quite a droll & funny lady.
I remember one particular joke of hers I thought was funny - If you know you are dying make sure you have your diamonds buried with you & if the second ***** wants them, let her dig! :yes:


Nov 1, 2006
Um, she's starting to look a bit like Jocelyn Wildenstein in that last pic?

Vegas Long Legs

Nov 13, 2006
I saw her in Vegas with my father in the late 70's. Her act was filthy (for the 70's) & my dad made us leave.:Push:
I've seen worse since.
She was so funny on the Tonight show.