Bill Zwecker: Remembering my friend Joan Rivers

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ABOVE: Joan Rivers and her daughter, Melissa.

As the news broke Thursday of the death of Joan Rivers, I immediately was reminded of so many great moments with Joan — dating back to the four years in the late 1980s and early ’90s when I was one of her entertainment/celebrity contributors to her daytime talk show.

Much will be written about Joan’s legendary comedic talent, her cutting edge, wicked sense of humor and her indefatigable ability to constantly reinvent and evolve as an entertainer and entrepreneur.

The first thing that came to mind Thursday was something Joan told me shortly after I first met her. We were talking backstage at “The Joan Rivers Show” in New York and she said, “The way I judge other celebrities is NOT how they talk to each other or even to me, but how they talk to and treat people who can’t talk back. Of course, stars will be nice to people who they think can do something for their careers, but it’s how they treat their drivers, makeup artists, waitresses in restaurants or maids that tells me how they really are.”

A few years later, I was in a limo with Joan when she was heading up to the Old Orchard shopping center for a book signing. It was shortly after her daughter Melissa got engaged. Joan very candidly told me she wasn’t crazy about the guy — and doubted the marriage would last — but “he’s absolutely gorgeous, so I’m convinced he and Melissa will give me an equally gorgeous grandchild.”

While Joan accurately predicted Melissa’s marriage to horse breeder John Endicott would eventually fail, she also was right about him fathering her handsome and beloved grandson Cooper — truly the love of her life. Ever since Cooper was born 13 years ago, I have never had a conversation with Joan when she didn’t brag about Cooper — ranging from his skills playing lacrosse, to him coming up with his favorite nickname for her: “Granny New Face,” a quip about Joan’s obsession with plastic surgery.

Behind Joan’s immense talent and always hysterical wit was a woman with a generous heart, a love of beauty and an intensely loyal dedication to her legion of great friends. “Without friends, life would be so empty. That’s something I can’t even imagine.”

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We cannot live together as a community unless we accord others the same respect we ask for ourselves.