“Joan Rivers’ directions for her own funeral service were printed in the program the ushers handed out on Sunday [Sept. 7, 2014] at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side of Manhattan,” reports The New York Times.
The story reports: “ ‘I want my funeral to be a big showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action,’ the paragraph-long directive said. ‘I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don’t want some rabbi rambling on.’ ”
Rivers’ friends complied with her wishes, the story says, and here are a few examples:
“Television personality Deborah Norville told about watching Ms. Rivers scatter a friend’s ashes around a rose bush at Buckingham Palace. Or the one Ms. Norville told about how, instigated by Ms. Rivers at a party in France that was threatened by heavy rain, they rented costumes worthy of Louis XIV — magisterial robes and powdered wigs. They even got a costume for another guest, Walter Cronkite.
“Who knew that the most trusted man in America wore tighty-whities,” Ms. Norville said, “because Walter opens his robe and he flashes everybody, and we go, ‘Oh my God,’ and he said, ‘Well, you didn’t get me any pants. I didn’t know if I was supposed to wear any.’ ”
Besides Norville, “Howard Stern … delivered [a eulogy] while Hugh Jackman sang ‘Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage,’“ reports the New York Daily News.
The News adds, “The service also included a solo from Tony-winning actress Audra McDonald, who sang ‘Smile.’ The NYPD bagpipers played ‘New York, New York’; and a series of show tunes as they led the procession of VIPs out of the synagogue before throngs of fans and paparazzi.
“Stern opened his remarks with an appropriately vulgar — and unprintable — crack about the effects of aging on one of Rivers’ body parts before lavishing praise on the showbiz legend who died Thursday at 81. ‘She was my hero. A trailblazer,’ said Stern.
“ ‘I hope Joan is somewhere right now chasing Johnny Carson with a baseball bat,’ he added.” Carson had stopped talking to Rivers after she decided to go to Fox in 1986 to compete with him.
The Daily News said some of the celebrities who attended the funeral included Kathy Griffin, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Whoopi Goldberg, Diane Sawyer, Rosie O’Donnell, Barbara Walters, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, designer Michael Kors, Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming, Tommy Tune, Donald Trump, Steve Forbes and Barry DIller.
Even though Diller famously fired Rivers from Fox, he wished her well afterward, a fact Rivers acknowledged in one of her memoirs, “Still Talking.”
The New York Times story added: “The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus performed several numbers, including ‘What a Wonderful World,’ ‘There Is Nothing Like a Dame’ and ‘Big Spender.’
The Times also wrote that Rivers’ good friend, New York Post columnist Cindy Adams, said at the funeral that Rivers was “brassy in public” and “classy in private.” And Stern further described Rivers as a ‘troublemaker, trail blazer, pioneer for comics everywhere, never apologizing and never caring what people thought.’”
To read more about the Joan Rivers funeral, please click on our links, above, to the original stories in The Times and Daily News.