The 1990 TV Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host was awarded to Joan Rivers. Her daytime talk show, “The Joan Rivers Show,” was popular, and she was at the top of her game. When Joan stepped up to the stage to make her acceptance speech, there was no dry eye in the house. Her speech was powerful. It discussed things “we just don’t talk about.”
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There is a need to offer a little background information before we dive into her speech. Joan Rivers began her career as a comedian. She was installed as the first permanent guest host on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Their friendship was tight. Many people joked that Joan was Johnny’s daughter. Then along came a fox and stole Joan away from Johnny. The new Fox Television Network offered her a nighttime talk show slot. She accepted, and it ruined her friendship with Johnny Carson.
The new show debuted on October 9, 1986, but lasted only slightly more than six months. Joan had hired her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, as the producer. Fox wanted her to fire him, and when she refused, they fired her and Edgar on May 15, 1987. Due to the fight with Johnny Carson, Joan found it difficult to secure work. Sadly, Edgar committed suicide (the thing “we just don’t talk about”) later that same year. Joan’s income had dropped substantially, and times were difficult, which is where our snippet of Joan’s short but poignant speech begins.
I’m not going to offer the transcript of her speech here. It is too powerful for words. The snippet is short. Listen, and you will hear her emotion as she dedicates the award to her husband. The one thing he always told her is what kept her going: “You can turn things around…” Indeed, she continued and enjoyed a very successful career until she died in 2014. It took a bit, but she did it. Today, we celebrate Joan Rivers for this stirring Emmy acceptance speech and her perseverance in the face of the tragedy of Edgar’s death.
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