Last Girl Before Freeway

Last Girl Before Freeway

The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers

Large Print - 2016
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Named one of "40 Gifts for the Book Lover on Your List," by Good Housekeeping
The definitive book about Joan Rivers' tumultuous, victorious, tragic, hilarious, and fascinating life.

Joan Rivers was more than a legendary comedian; she was an icon and a role model to millions, a fearless pioneer who left a legacy of expanded opportunity when she died in 2014. Her life was a dramatic roller-coaster of triumphant highs and devastating lows: the suicide of her husband, her feud with Johnny Carson, her estrangement from her daughter, her many plastic surgeries, her ferocious ambition and her massive insecurities. But Rivers' career was also hugely significant in American cultural history, breaking down barriers for her gender and pushing the boundaries of truth-telling for women in public life.

A juicy, intimate biography of one of the greatest comedians ever-a performer whose sixty year career was borne, simply, out of a desire to make people laugh so she could feel loved-LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY delves into the inner workings of a woman who both reflected and redefined the world around her.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2016
Edition: Large print ed
ISBN: 9780316433068
Branch Call Number: LP B BENNETTS
Characteristics: ix, 709 pages (large print), 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
large print


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Aug 26, 2017

This was a terrific and thorough telling of Joan Rivers' life. I didn't expect much after reading the reviews here, but it was entertaining and inspiring as it illustrated the reasons behind her drive and work ethic, and the unending barriers that were put in her way. While I enjoyed some of her humor and thought some of it was a bit too pointed, I was very impressed and inspired by her indomitable spirit as she hit bottom several times but just continued doing whatever she could to continue working and trying anything and everything she could think of to succeed.

I'm also extremely impressed with all the sources the author found, talked to and used--both those who thought the world of Joan Rivers and those who couldn't stand her. Very well done and a very good read!

Apr 16, 2017

I was never a huge fan of Ms. Rivers' humor but was interested in how she began her career. This book was filled with too much detail for me and since I have no interest in having a career in entertainment, most of the info was useless. Rivers comes across as abrasive and rather impolite - I was left with a more unpleasant view of Rivers than I had before reading the book. I'm sure she had many charming and lovely attributes, but I had/have little interest in digging thru this very large book to find them. This is a book for fans only.

Mar 13, 2017

I started reading this book and soon realized that it was full of Joan's quotations from some other books. I was taking mental notes of those titles in case I decide to read them. I prefer to read originals rather than interpretations. The book gives a very thorough account of Joan's performances and failures. Too thorough, from my point of view. I saw Joan in her Fashion Police and her sense of humour was fabulous but often sarcastic. Having read this book, I went on You Tube to watch her stand ups...oh boy. The book explains how hard it was for her to build her audience and make people laugh and I get it - I didn't find her jokes about her body and aging - in that combination - funny at all. I found them quiet embarrassing in fact. However, I admire her perseverance and hard work.

Feb 08, 2017

I remember the young(er) Joan from her tv appearances on classic variety series like The Ed Sullivan and Flip Wilson shows and of course her stand-up and chats with Johnny Carson on the old Tonight Show. I liked that self-deprecating Joan and found her quirky looks attractive if not conventionally pretty. She was a lot more interesting to me than the caustic Fashion Police diva who went on to have so many plastic surgeries she came to resemble a caricature of herself.

Nor was I particularly a fan of Rivers's evolution into the potty-mouthed and mean-spirited comic she became, the first example of this being the Elizabeth Taylor fat jokes, which were relentless, got old fast, and seemed pointlessly cruel. Thus one of the most entertaining passages of Leslie Bennetts's bio chronicles the deliciously funny revenge taken by La Liz, now svelte and ravishingly beautiful again, the night she showed up on the arm of invited guest George Hamilton to an elegant dinner party given by Joan and her husband Edgar Rosenberg. It's so wonderful of you to invite me!" Taylor purred, and the speechless, mortified Rivers was a nervous wreck throughout the entire evening. ("It was done so deftly," Hamilton recalled. "Joan felt more humiliated than Elizabeth ever felt.")

Bennetts also explores, in almost exhausting detail, the traumatic effects of the debacle that was River's first talk show on the then-fledgling Fox network in 1986, a career move that effectively ended her marriage and sparked a legendary feud with former mentor Carson; and Edgar's shocking suicide a year later. Her husband's decision to end his life in a Philadelphia hotel room led to a lengthy estrangement between Rivers and their daughter Melissa, who blamed her mother for her father's death. (Their appearance together in the 1994 tv movie "Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story" remains one of the more bizarre episodes in the annals of showbiz.)

All that said, there's something truly touching about Joan Rivers, who all her life was a walking monument to insecurity. It's impossible not to admire her moxie and her work ethic, her uncanny ability to rescue and reinvent herself in the wake of so much emotional devastation.

Dec 06, 2016

Really enjoyed this account of Joan River's life. Was never a huge fan, but definitely found her funny and crass at the same time. One has to appreciate what a hard worker she was her entire life.


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