Joan Rivers accomplished a lot in her decades-long career, but one of her most meaningful triumphs was winning a Daytime Emmy Award in 1990. So it was fitting, then, that she be honored at the 2015 Daytime Emmy Awards on Sunday, April 26, eight months after her tragic death at age 81.
The comedienne's daughter, Melissa Rivers, led the tribute to her late mother, taking the stage as a clip of Joan's emotional speech from 25 years ago played for the audience at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif.
"After some terrible lows in my mom's life, both personally and professionally, the cancellation of her late-night talk show and the unimaginable loss of my dad would've probably been more than most people could bear," Melissa began, alluding to Edgar Rosenberg's 1987 suicide. "But not my mother. She refused to give up. And the daytime television community saved her."
Indeed, Joan's career took a major hit when Fox canceled her late-night program after just one season in 1987. She struggled to find work for two years after that, until 1989, when she came back stronger than ever with The Joan Rivers Show.
"It ran for five years, and brought her the only Emmy she would ever win," Melissa shared. "This strong foundation reinvigorated her career, and my mother felt loved and valued by the daytime community, and for that I will always be grateful."
Joan herself talked about the significance of the show's success during her acceptance speech in 1990. "Two years ago, I couldn't get a job in this business. I could not get a job," she said at the time. "My income dropped to one-sixteenth of what it was before I was fired. And people said I wouldn't work again. And my husband, as you know, had a breakdown."
Tearfully, she continued: "It's so sad that he's not here, because it was husband, Edgar Rosenberg, who always said, 'You can turn things around.' And except for one terrible moment in a hotel room in Philadelphia when he forget that, this is really for him. Because he was with me from the beginning, and I'm so sorry he's not here."
That win kicked off a very busy (and very successful) two decades for the iconic Fashion Police star, who rebounded as a red carpet commentator and much more. "She went on to have 24 more fabulous years," Melissa said Sunday, "and I got to enjoy all of them with her, as her producer, her business partner, her costar, and the best part was as her daughter."