Melissa Rivers is approaching ten years without her parents alive in her life. Her mother, Joan Rivers, died in 2014 at the age of 81, but Melissa’s been without her father, Edgar Rosenberg, for more than thirty years.
Joan and Edgar married in 1965, and welcomed their only child, Melissa, three years later. As a TV producer married to an actress/comedian/TV host, the couple were in the spotlight for much of their lives together.
In 1986, Joan was offered her own late night TV show on Fox, called The Late Show, which would compete with Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show, and lasted only two seasons. Barely a year after its premiere, she and her husband were fired from Fox.
That same year, Edgar ended up taking his own life.
In the years after, Melissa and Joan’s relationship suffered, as they both struggled to move forward and come to grips about the direction their lives had taken prior and after the suicide of Edgar.
In 2014, just before her passing, Joan spoke with Daily Beast about her own considerations of taking her own life after her husband had passed and she had struggled to reconcile with her only daughter.
“Melissa wasn’t talking to me, my career was in the toilet, I’d lost my Vegas contracts, I’d been fired from Fox. Carson and NBC had put out such bad publicity about me. I was a pariah,” she said. “I wasn’t invited anywhere. I was a non-person. At one point I thought, ‘What’s the point? This is stupid.’”
She explained that her dog, Spike, is who saved her life when he jumped in her lap and she thought, “No one will take care of him.”
Having getting through that dark part of her life, she used her experience as a way to communicate to others the importance of staying alive and finding reasons not to commit suicide.
“I lecture on suicide because things turn around. I tell people this is a horrible, awful dark moment, but it will change and you must know it’s going to change and you push forward,” she shared. “I look back and think, ‘Life is great, life goes on. It changes.’”
Melissa also shared how she felt during those years in a 2019 interview on ABC’s radio show, Life After Suicide.
“I was angry at my mom, I was angry at my dad, I was angry at the UPS guy, I was angry at the person in traffic, 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 explained. “I was really mad at my mom, really mad, and we’ve spoken very openly about that.”
Despite her mother’s claims that she blamed Joan for her father’s suicide, Melissa felt she was able to move forward before her mom ever accepted the tragedy for what it was.
“What I found fascinating – and I know my mother would deny this – she never got past it. She felt terribly embarrassed, terribly angry, terribly embarrassed … I don’t think she ever got over the anger,” Melissa continued. “She will tell you she would and she used to say to people, ‘Well, I just still can’t believe what he put Melissa through, and he did that to Melissa,’ and you want to be like, ‘Mom, I’m probably better than you are on this one.’”
“It’s so interesting that something that could have destroyed my life and something that created so much unhappiness and anger has become something now to do something really good that I care about and it’s become so much of a definition of who I am, and that I’m proud that I’m a survivor,” she concluded.
Last year, Melissa attended the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony where a bust of her late mother was unveiled. She spoke with ET at the time discussing things she wished she could say to her mother and how Joan would feel about the honor she was posthumously given.
“There’s so many things [I would say]. One is, oh god, ‘I wish you could be watching the news right now,’” she joked. “Number two, what I would say in all seriousness, is that I would tell her that she would be really proud of my son, of her grandson.”
Melissa has a 21-year-old son, Cooper, whom she shares with ex-husband, John Endicott.
“It’s such an achievement to be here and to have been inducted and to actually be in the garden,” she continued. “It’s great. It’s lovely. You know what the nice thing is? She will now officially be ageless.”
She shared that not only does she approve of the bust of her mother, but she believes that Joan would like it, too.
“They’ve got her in nice, soft focus. So that is all good. It’s wonderful… It’s beautiful,” she admitted. “It came out amazing and that’s what you want it to be. My biggest thing was that pit in my stomach right before I saw it, and to actually see it in person, not just the renderings, and be able to say I’m genuinely happy with how it came out [is great].”