Joan Rivers: Her Life in Photos

Comedienne, talk-show host, fashion critic, trailblazer: The riveting Rivers kept audiences laughing for more than 50 years

A GREAT HONOR

For two decades, Rivers made frequent appearances on The Tonight Show and considered Johnny Carson her mentor. In 1983, the comic (here with Betty White) was named his permanent guest host, the first time such a distinction was given to another entertainer. "I think TV should be gossipy, exciting, unpredictable," Rivers told PEOPLE of her interviewing style in 1983. "I ask questions that I would want answered as a private person."