Belfast Telegraph

Stars of TV, film and fashion gather to remember Rivers

By AP Reporters

The worlds of Hollywood, fashion, media and money united as celebrity mourners gathered for Joan Rivers' funeral and gave the comedienne the star-studded send-off she wanted.

Shock-jock Howard Stern delivered the eulogy, Broadway singer and actress Audra McDonald sang Smile, and bagpipers played New York, New York.

At a ceremony befitting a superstar, the New York City Gay Men's Chorus sang Broadway hits including Hey Big Spender before six-time Tony Award-winner McDonald sang her tribute to Rivers, a champion of theatre for decades.

Tributes were delivered by TV anchor Deborah Norville, close friend Margie Stern, columnist Cindy Adams and Rivers' daughter Melissa, who spoke about how she respected her mother and appreciated everyone's support.

"It was uplifting," said fashion designer Dennis Basso. "We were celebrating her life."

Hugh Jackman sang Quiet Please, There's A Lady On Stage at the end of the ceremony and bagpipers from the New York City Police Department played on the streets as mourners filed out of the Temple Emanu-El synagogue.

The funeral programme included a page with three classic Rivers' lines printed out: "Can we talk?", "Who are you wearing?" and "Because I'm a funny person".

A legion of famous faces turned out to remember the star, who died on Thursday aged 81. Comediennes Kathy Griffin, Rosie O'Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg, as well as Kelly Osbourne, Sarah Jessica Parker and husband Matthew Broderick, were among the mourners.

Theatre stars Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming and Tommy Tune were there. As was record producer Clive Davis and fashion designers Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors.

Stars from TV such as Barbara Walters, Geraldo Rivera, Diane Sawyer, Kathie Lee, Hoda Kotb and Andy Cohen also attended. They were joined by business moguls Barry Diller, Donald Trump and Steve Forbes.

Actress Susan Claassen, who met Rivers in London in 2008 when both had one-woman shows, came from Tucson, Arizona, to honour her friend. "I like to say that in a world of knockoffs, Joan was an original," she said.

Instead of a rabbi talking, Rivers asked for "Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents" and "a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyonce's".

Rivers was a trailblazer for all comics, but especially women. The raspy-voiced blonde with the brash New York accent was a TV talk show host, stage, film and TV actress, fashion critic and sold a line of jewellery.

The cause of her death is currently under investigation. Rivers was taken to hospital on August 28 after she went into cardiac arrest during a routine procedure at a doctor's office.

The New York state health department is looking into the circumstances, and the New York City medical examiner has said that tests to determine the cause of death were inconclusive.

Rivers' publicist said that in lieu of flowers, donations could go to the groups God's Love We Deliver and Guide Dogs For The Blind.

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