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All three of the broadcast morning shows devoted multiple segments, including long reports at the top of each show, to the comedian who died Thursday at 81. All three shows reported on the news of Rivers’ death and how she was rushed to the hospital a week prior after she reportedly went into cardiac arrest during surgery. They all also looked back at Rivers’ life and career, airing clips of her guest-hosting The Tonight Show, dishing out fashion criticism on the red carpet, appearing in her WE tv reality series with her daughter, Melissa, and making fellow comedians laugh on late night.
Both GMA and Today also reported on the details of Rivers’ funeral and played the audiobook of her reading the passage from her 2012 book in which she describes the very Hollywood way she wanted to say goodbye. They also noted that the New York state Department of Health is investigating the circumstances surrounding the comedian’s death.
GMA opened with a live look at the makeshift memorial outside Rivers’ Manhattan home and showed photos of her final performance, the day before she went in for what was expected to be a routine medical procedure, but one that ended up landing her in the hospital. ABC News’ Mara Schiavocampo then reported from outside Rivers’ home on the events leading up to Rivers’ death, funeral plans and the outpouring of support for the comedian.
GMA also spoke to People editorial director Jess Cagle, who conducted the last interview with Rivers, the day before she was hospitalized, saying she was warm, upbeat and funny then, and that she went from an event at Time Inc. to a club where she was testing out new material.
GMA also spoke to Joy Behar, who shared her memories of Rivers, including recalling that she had once made a quip about Rivers having Botox on Jay Leno‘s show and Leno thought Rivers would get mad. Behar said she wouldn’t and added, “she’s the funniest woman in the world.” Behar said on GMA that Rivers called her the next day and was upset that Behar had called her the funniest woman in the world instead of the funniest person in the world. She didn’t care about the Botox joke.
Behar also weighed in on Rivers’ legacy to girls.
“Say what’s on your mind. If you’re funny, go for it,” she said.
Today began with Erica Hill reporting from the studio on the events leading up to Rivers’ death, the funeral plans and her career and legacy.
The show then aired a clip of Jimmy Fallon remembering her on Thursday night’s Tonight Show and her red-carpet coverage, including a bit where she told Jim Carrey the flower in his suit was stupid. He then threw it away.
Today ended its segment with a video interview in which Rivers is asked what she wants on her tombstone, to which she said, “She had a great time.”
Cohen recalled watching her on TV when he was growing up in St. Louis
“When she subbed for [Johnny] Carson, that was like Christmas for me every time. She was electrifying,” he said. “She was one of the first larger-than-life women that I connected to. And I couldn’t believe, like everybody in America, the stuff that she said. It was shocking but she was so funny.”
He then recalled working with her, including when he was cast in a Bravo pilot with Rivers and the first thing she said to him was “You gotta get Botox. You have to get Botox.” He added on Today that he never did but was thinking last night, maybe he should get a shot as a tribute.
Griffin said she was “devastated” by Rivers’ death, adding, “I will miss her forever.”
Griffin told multiple stories about Rivers and said she was impressed by how Rivers let criticism roll off her back.
Griffin said she would often tell Rivers something that she thought was revealing, like how she recently had a very high-level agent yell at her and call her names on a conference call. And when she asked Rivers if that ever happened to her, she said, “Of course … on to the next.”
“She was very good at being on to the next thing,” Griffin said.
Griffin also revealed a little-known fact about the comedian, that she was close with Prince Charles, who adored her.
CBS This Morning began with a taped segment looking back at Rivers’ life and career and later aired some of her past interviews with Charlie Rose.
Meanwhile, Live! With Kelly and Michael also paid tribute to Rivers with an opening segment. After noting how much they’ll miss their dear friend, host Kelly Ripa said in a voiceover that Friday’s episode was pre-taped before the news of Rivers’ death broke, but since Rivers spent decades making them laugh, they would try to make people laugh for the next hour.
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