Joan Rivers had a long, illustrious career, with both incredible highs and terrible lows. One of those highs came in 1990, when she rebounded from what may have been the worst period of her life to win the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk/Service Show Host for her TV series The Joan Rivers Show, which ran from 1989 to 1993.
Taking the stage to accept her award, Rivers gave a speech that was at once funny, warm, and utterly heart-wrenching. There were laughs, of course, but there were also tears — from the comedienne herself and from the audience.
True to her nature, she started off her speech with a joke. “I always had a fantasy as a child that I’d win one of these,” she began, clutching the golden statue. “I never thought I’d be this old when the fantasy came true, but here it is.”
She went on to thank everyone involved with her show before ending on a personal and very poignant note. “[Thank you] especially to my daughter Melissa, because the last two years have been very difficult. Two years ago, I couldn’t get a job in this business,” she shared, alluding to the fallout of her firing from Fox’s The Late Show. “People said I wouldn’t work again.”
Then, broaching the subject of her husband Edgar Rosenberg’s suicide, she added: “And my husband, as you know, had a breakdown.” (Rosenberg, who married Rivers in 1965 and was also her manager, overdosed shortly after she was fired from Fox in 1987.)
“It’s so sad that he’s not here, because it was my husband Edgar Rosenberg who always said, ‘You can turn things around,'” Rivers told the audience as she struggled not to cry. “And except for one terrible moment in a hotel room in Philadelphia when he forgot that, this is really for him, because he was with me from the beginning, and I’m so sorry he’s not here tonight.”
As previously reported, the Fashion Police host died at age 81 on Thursday, Sept. 4, after experiencing complications during an outpatient procedure at a clinic one week earlier. Her daughter, Melissa, confirmed her death in a statement, saying, “My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.”
Watch Rivers’ Emmys speech above.
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