A Genuine Celebrity

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September 4, 2014 by Ian Goldstein


By Ian Goldstein 

There’s going to be a lot of tributes in the coming weeks for Joan Rivers, who died today at the age of 81. 

When Robin Williams died, there was an outpouring of love and dedication to a man who took his own life and probably needed more of that care during his life. 

When Williams passed I had nothing to say. Nothing to write. I, like most of us, never met Williams and never knew him on any personal level, but still felt the devastation of his untimely death. This doesn’t mean his characters and films didn’t impact my life. His standup, his acting, and his interviews did. But the actual Robin Williams I never knew. 

I met Joan Rivers once, when I worked at a local bookstore on Long Island she visited months prior to her death. Before she came to sign her book I heard many negative stories about Rivers, declaring her a rude, selfish person; the bookstore even received phone calls demanding we throw her out or that she should burn in hell for her brand of comedy. But what was she really like? 

Patient. She was patient with her fans, taking selfies, making conversation, and she seemed genuinely interested in what her readers and viewers had to say. She didn’t forget that her fans were there for her. Some celebrities do and try to get make the signing as quick and painless as possible. 

When Rivers finished signing books, when her fans had left, there were a few staff members, including myself, cleaning up as she was leaving. She went up to the group of us and thanked us. It was a simple thank you, but considering she could have ran out, it meant a lot. 

I never had a conversation with Joan Rivers. She didn’t know my name, only that I worked at a bookstore.   

Though some found offense in her humor, her honesty was necessary in a generation full of the self-absorbed and politically correct.

I never knew Joan Rivers, but at 81 years old she seemed to appreciate the people around her.


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