Joan lost everything within a year, her career, her husband, and her special relationship with her daughter until they went to therapy and worked on it.
The year 1986 was full of ups and downs for the legendary comedian Joan Rivers who broke down the barriers for women in television and paved the way for other female comedians to reach heights of fame in Hollywood.
Initially, the year was a big one as she was touring all over the country with sold-out tickets. She was the permanent guest host to her mentor Johnny Carson on his show The Tonight Show that had made her a star and had just released her book Enter Talking. This was also the year when she was offered her own show by Fox, reported Biography.
However, things began to go downhill after she accepted the offer because not only did she lose 20 years of friendship with Carson who never spoke to her again after she left his show, but by 1987, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers' rating had gone down so low that Fox fired her. To makes things worse, her husband Edgar Rosenberg took his own life. On top of that, her daughter Melissa Rivers rubbed some salt on her wounds by blaming Joan for her father's death.
The news of the 62-year-old producer's death came as a shock to his family as much as it did to the people around him. Joan told the L.A Times that she had spoken to him the day before the incident. “He said he had finished his business and was coming home. He was, indeed. On final business.”
While the comic was trying to recover from the loss of her husband of 22 years, Melissa, who was just 19 years old at that time, was grieving in her own way. Joan had only recently separated from her husband before he committed suicide and the young Melissa saw that as the cause for her father's tragic death.
Talking to People in 1993, Joan explained, “The way I see it, Melissa blamed me.” She continued to say that even though they “tried to go on with our own lives," they "were both so broken that we couldn’t help each other."
Watching the career she had spent her life on slipping away along with the loss of her husband and the relationship she had with her daughter pushed the Fashion Police star into some dark places. Single again along with $37 million debt with no source of income, she thought of ending her life as well, as per Vogue.
Journalist Leslie Bennetts in her book, Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers, wrote, “She had lost everything at an age in life when women normally can’t recover, no matter what field they work in. And especially in the entertainment industry, which is notoriously unforgiving to aging women, you would think it was hopeless.”
Joan too admitted to People back in 1993 that she "thought about suicide myself." However, she decided against it "for Melissa’s sake." She continued, "I had to keep going. Otherwise, I would give her the same message as Edgar—that suicide is the only way out. So I felt she had to see me climb out of the well.”
Melissa who was raging with overwhelming feelings following her father's death didn't want anything to do with her mother. In the interview on the ABC Radio podcast Life After Suicide, she said, “I didn’t want to know [what my mother was feeling]. It was her problem. I was going through my own thing.” For a year, the mom and daughter didn't get along and when things seemed to be moving towards the "beyond repair" territory, Joan insisted on the two going for therapy that lasted for 8 months.
Talking about the emotions she had been enduring after the death of her father, the Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? reality show star recalled on the podcast, “I was angry at my mom." She continued, "I was angry at my dad... I was … I used to feel like, I used to call it like this free-floating sort of anger, and God help whoever it landed on that day." She added, “I was really mad at my mom, really mad, and we’ve spoken very openly about that.”
Even though things were rocky between them, Joan was there for her when Melissa went through “something terrible and traumatic." Just three months after Rosenberg's demise, Melissa found herself in an abusive relationship where her only support was her mother, Joan. Recalling the way her mom supported her, she said, “She didn’t condemn me. She never asked me, ‘How could you have gone back to him?’ She just said, ‘Okay, this is the situation. Let’s deal with it.’”
Joan and Melissa reconciled their relationship after that incident and remained, in Joan's words, "each other’s sounding boards" who talked things out until the comic's demise.