Rivers was born as Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York.
In the 1960s she made television appearances as a comdian on the popular Tonight Show and Ed Sullivan Show, as well as hosting the first of her several talk shows. She would often be brought in as a guest host of the Tonight Show through the 1980s.
Joan Rivers has been awarded the 1975 Georgie Award as "Best Comedienne", the Clio Award for "Best Performance in a TV Commercial" in 1976 and 1982, and the 1990 Daytime Emmy Award as "Best Talk Show Host".
In the mid 1980s her evening talk show was one of the first programs launching the new Fox Television Network.