When she met her agent Tony Rivers, he suggested she change her last name and she chose to take his. But before she met him, she performed standup comedy at a small club in downtown Manhattan with the stage name of Pepper January. In the sixties, she appeared on several shows such as Candid Camera, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Ed Sullivan Show, and played in The Swimmer. In the seventies, she continued her streak on The Tonight Show as well as spotlighted on The Carol Burnett Show, Hollywood Squares, The Electric Company, and wrote a screenplay later turned into a movie title The Girl Most Likely To…She also wrote and directed Rabbit Test. Yet her career was still just getting started.
By the time the eighties rolled around, she was still doing standup comedy both in person and on television, and performed at Carnegie Hall in 1983. In 1986, she was given her own show by Fox Networks, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Her acceptance of this position ended her longtime friendship with her costar and mentor, Johnny Carson. She was banned from The Tonight Show and Johnny Carson’s successors, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, honored the ban during their reigns. That didn’t prevent Joan from winning a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host and publishing twelve best-selling novels.
It seemed love found her twice in her lifetime. She married James Sanger in 1955, but they quickly annulled six months later when Rivers found out Sanger did not want children. She remarried in 1965 to Edgar Rosenberg and they had one child together, Melissa Warburg Rosenberg, known by Melissa Rivers when she is onstage. Unfortunately, Edgar Rosenberg passed away in 1987 due to an overdose of Valium. It seems Joan could have benefited from using a celebrity psychic reader for advice before she married, or maybe some free love spells!
The female comedian passed away in August of 2014 during surgery on her throat in Manhattan. A psychic had predicted her death before it happened.