In a sometimes-chatty, sometimes-critical eulogy of longtime friend Joan Rivers, TV host Barbara Walters called the comedian “a trailblazer who paved the way for female comics.”
In a column published Friday in the New York Daily News, Walters admitted “there may have even been a bit of competition between us in the beginning,” but said she and Rivers eventually became close, calling her old friend “wonderful company.”
Rivers died Thursday, a week after going into cardiac arrest during a medical procedure. She was 81.
Walters’ tribute wasn’t all glowing, though. At times, it took on an almost backhanded nature, with Walters saying Rivers “wasn’t a great beauty and she didn’t have great success with men.” She also said the comedian was desperate for applause.
“Her stage act was very raunchy. She would make fun of herself,” Walters wrote. “Make fun of her looks. Make fun of her body and she would put herself down in order to win an audience’s approval. Frankly she did almost anything for a laugh. Anything to get an applause… Above all else, she loved to work — because more than anyone I’ve ever known, she needed the praise and the warmth of an audience.”
Walters also revealed that the insecure comic even told panelists on Walters’ ABC daytime show, “The View,” what they could and couldn’t ask.
“So those spontaneous rejoinders that we had with her?” she wrote. “They were not spontaneous at all.”
No one was off limits with Rivers, even Walters’ hero, President Obama. Not only did she joking speculate that the president was gay, she slammed first lady Michelle Obama, calling her a transgender.
“We already have it with Obama, so let’s just calm down,” Rivers said when a photographer once asked her if the United States would ever have a gay president. “You know Michelle is a trans.”
It’s no secret that Walters is a big fan of the president, having once said, “We thought that he was going to be the next messiah.”
River’s funeral will be held Sunday in Manhattan, CNN reported. In her 2012 book, “I Hate Everyone… Starting with Me,” the comedian detailed her dream funeral, which included, according to CeleBuzz:
1. “I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action. I want Craft services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way.”
2. “I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents.”
3. “I don’t want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing ‘Mr. Lonely.'”
4. “I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag.”
5. “And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing like Beyoncé’s.”
Let’s hope it goes just as she scripted it.
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