Joan Rivers’ funeral draws celebrities in droves to Upper East Side synagogue

September 8th, 2014 by Staff

Joan Rivers got her final wish.

The caustic comedian’s dream of a star-studded funeral was fulfilled Sunday, as scores of celebrities packed Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side to pay their respects.

Howard Stern and TV anchor Deborah Norville delivered eulogies, while Hugh Jackman sang “Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage.”

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, alluding to Rivers’ feud with “The Tonight Show” host late in his career.

Rivers famously said she wanted her funeral to be a spectacle for the ages, with cameras flashing and stars weeping.

“I want craft services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene!” she wrote in her 2012 book “I Hate Everyone … Starting With Me.”

“I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents.”

So it was only proper that the big-name attendees — all of whom counted Rivers as a close friend — were no strangers to the red carpet.

Indeed, Rivers, the star of “Fashion Police,” would have felt at home stalking the entrance, mercilessly skewering every sartorial faux pas.

“I cried, and I don’t normally cry,” said Jeff Ross, who produced Rivers’ roast on Comedy Central. “So it really got to me. We’ll miss that lady. I hope God is well-dressed, because she’ll be criticizing his outfit.”

TV stars included Kathy Griffin, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Whoopi Goldberg, Diane Sawyer, Rosie O’Donnell and Barbara Walters.

Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick and designer Michael Kors also bid Rivers farewell.

Broadway stars Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming and Tommy Tune were in the audience, as were moguls Barry Diller, Donald Trump and Steve Forbes.

Norville said she was thankful Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, gave her the honor of speaking.

“Joan was phenomenally talented. If it made you laugh, it was a success,” Norville told the Daily News after the funeral.

Melissa also spoke, keeping her tears at bay.

“I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for Cooper and me,” she said, referring to her 13-year-old son among the audience of around 1,000.

A source said Melissa, Rivers’ only child with her late husband Edgar Rosenberg, put on a strong face at the memorial, though she remains grief stricken.

“Melissa thought it was very important to (show) dignity,” the source said.

Jackman closed with his rousing performance of the tune from “The Boy From Oz.”

“Joan, this is for you. But since you asked for it you already know that,” he said.

On the opposite side of E. 65th St., dozens of gawkers and paparazzi took in the scene.

Joseph Lucas, 49, said many of the celebs appeared “quiet and emotional” — and that Rivers would have been pleased.

“She would have liked the sendoff…. She would have been impressed by the turnout,” Lucas said.

Debbie Sklar, 70, said she admired how biting Rivers was right up to the end.

The night before the procedure that led to her death, the razor-sharp Rivers did an hour of edgy standup — the type of comedy that led her to a groundbreaking career spanning decades as a talk show host, fashion critic and actress on both stage and screen.

“She always said, if you can’t handle it, don’t buy a ticket,” Sklar said. “She was very quick until the end.”

Hours after the funeral, Walters entered Rivers’ E. 62nd St. apartment building to sit shiva with the family. She waved at fans and reporters camped outside the building.


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