It seems everybody has a great Joan River’s story…well, here’s mine.
In 1995 I was working for the LGBT Center as director of special events. Joan had graciously done two previous benefits for the Center and I was awestruck and honored to be producing the third (she donated her time to the Center as her interior designer of many years, Louis Malkin, and his partner Dino Georgiou were Center supporters.)
Joan was the first real celebrity I ever worked with and once we got past her publicist/manager, she was as lovely as could be. On the bill that night were a host of comics (including my long-time friend Jim David) and some assorted “variety” acts, one of which was The Imperial Court of NY.
So the Imperial Court is doing “Copa Cabana” to close the first act and I hear our director Joe Billone call a cue – “go mirror ball”. The aforementioned mirror went and promptly fell from the grid striking the empress of the the Court on the head, knocking her wig askew. She stumbled off the stage, shaken but okay.
I made an announcement asking if there was a doctor in the house and wouldn’t you know it but a psychiatrist and two therapists came forward.
Short story is the Empress was take away by ambulance but was fine…we thought…(that’s another story)
I went to Joan’s dressing room to tell her the show would continue as the unfortunate performer would be fine.
Joan made her entrance for the second act in a beautiful red Haltson gown with her bodyguard following behind carrying the dented mirror ball (they are hollow, btw). Her guard pretended to hit her in the head with the damaged mirror ball, she threw herself on her back on the stage and screamed: “Where’s my lawyer? The bitch could own this place!!” Joan then did 10 minutes of Jewish lawyer jokes and totally saved the evening.
Many years later I met Joan again and we reminisced about the infamous mirror ball incident.
In the picture she is posing next to her mannequin from the Barney’s holiday windows (we had Madonna and Tammy Fae as well) as we auctioned it off before the show (I’m to the right with the headset on).
She is the kindest star I have ever had the pleasure or working with and will always sparkle in my eyes!