When Joan Rivers passed away, she was an Emmy Award winner who found considerable success as an actress, writer, producer, television host and most notably, as a pioneering standup comic. Rivers’ most formidable weapons were a razor sharp tongue, rapier wit, keen intellect and a rapid-fire delivery that put her on equal footing with peers like Don Rickles. As a regular presence critiquing celebrity do’s and don’ts on the red carpet by way of E! Entertainment’s Fashion Police, Rivers verbally vivisected numerous stars and along the way, got into public beefs with a number of celebrities. That willingness to speak her mind wound up having the Brooklyn native get into a number of spats over the years.
Joan Rivers’ longtime friendship with mentor Johnny Carson, (who tapped her to be a substitute host for The Tonight Show throughout most of the early to mid-’80s), came to a crashing halt after NBC refused to renew her contract and she accepted an offer from the fledgling Fox Network to go up against Carson in his time slot. Not only did he hang up the phone repeatedly when Rivers called to try and explain herself, the Nebraska native never spoke to her again.
When Johnny Carson banned Joan Rivers from appearing on The Tonight Show, it was a ban that successors Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien honored. It wasn’t until Jimmy Fallon took over the hosting gig and had Rivers make a triumphant return earlier this year after 26 years, or as she joked, “four noses ago.” A post-show interview with Inside Edition found the tart-tongued comic literally flipping Leno the bird and quipping, “”Well, Jay, 23 years. I’m still here and you’re gonna be selling cars.”
The big rift between the two E! Network stars allegedly started when Handler was leaving her network show and during an event, claimed to be the first woman to host a late night show. When Rivers followed her at this event and joked that, “I guess everyone’s forgotten the [Johnny] Carson show,” Handler never spoke to the elder entertainer ever again.
The latest young actress to criticize Joan Rivers’s razor-sharp criticisms on the E! show Fashion Police, Lawrence was duly slammed by Rivers who told the New York Post‘s Page 6 section, “I love that she’s telling everyone how wrong it is to worry about retouching and body image, and meanwhile, she has been touched up more than a choir boy at the Vatican. Look at her posters.”
It all started when Gwyneth Paltrow alluded to Joan Rivers in a 2013 Harper’s Bazaar interview when asked vehemently declared she’d never try Botox again. “I looked crazy. I looked like Joan Rivers!” The octogenarian comedian got wind of this and proceeded to go off during an episode of E!’s Watch What Happens Live, where she ridiculed Paltrow’s selection as People’s 2013 list of the world’s most beautiful woman, remarking “Voted by Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder!”
The fallout with the R&B star dates back to a 2012 Twitter feud the duo were involved in after Rihanna confessed to Oprah Winfrey that she still loved Chris Brown, who she had domestic abuse issues with. When Rivers tweeted, “Idiot! Now it’s MY turn to slap her,” the gloves came off. Rihanna went on to accuse Rivers of being old, slow and being in need of a diaper. Rivers tried to mend fences by responding, “Honey, @Rihanna, everyone knows: If he hit you once, he’ll hit you again. Read the statistics. PS – Love to have you on Fashion Police!”
The fellow comedy legend may go back years with the late Joan Rivers, but apparently a long-ago incident in Hawaii known only to the duo led to Burnett taking part in an awkward public spat with Rivers on her reality TV show, Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?
After Rivers approaches Burnett as she was dining with a male friend, she asked the latter if she would be willing to pose as a celebrity guest for a charity auction at her grandson’s school. Burnett declined before Rivers had a chance to share what date it would be on. And even though Rivers explained it was on Memorial Day weekend and her fellow comedian declined, Rivers asked what the problem was at which point, a visibly upset Burnett slammed her napkin down, barked “Hawaii!” and stormed out of the restaurant.
Reality show fame apparently didn’t impress Rivers, who regularly targeted the Kardashian-Jenner clan, despite being on the same network. It apparently got so bad that Kim and sister Khloe asked to be moved when the duo were accidentally seated next to Rivers at an event.
The Twilight actress wasn’t laughing when she got wind of a passage from Joan Rivers’ book Diary of a Mad Diva where the comedian wrote, “Many stars only do one thing well. Of course, the best one-trick-pony is Kristen Stewart, who got a whole career by being able to juggle a director’s balls.” Stewart allegedly threatened to sue unless Rivers removed the lines from Mad Diva.
Although this never developed into a full-blown feud, the pro-Israel Rivers was less than forgiving when she heard Disney tween star Selena Gomez posted “Pray for Gaza” on Instagram. Not only did she scoff when she called Gomez, “…that college grad,” but quipped, “If Selena said that…let’s see if she can spell Palestinian.”