Joan Rivers, who died this week, proved to be a fearless, courageous and hilarious woman -- even in the face of tragedy. Photo by Timothy White, courtesy E! Entertainment

Joan Rivers, who died this week, proved to be a fearless, courageous and hilarious woman — even in the face of tragedy.
Photo by Timothy White, courtesy E! Entertainment

by Luaine Lee

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

I was heartsick to learn that Joan Rivers died this week.  After conducting more than 1,600 interviews, I found her one of the best.  Why?  Because she was honest, fearless and down-to-earth.  She would tell you anything you asked.  I interviewed her about five times over the years, once shortly after her husband had committed suicide.  I couldn’t imagine how she summoned the courage and inner strength to go on after such a debilitating tragedy.  She was also funny.  She said her technique of doing interviews on her talk shows was simple:  “I just ask the questions that everyone wants to ask,” she said. I remember she scribbled the name and phone number of her favorite plastic surgeon for me.  (I never called.)  A fatty as a kid, she always worried about her weight.  One time she stood up and showed me the two-inch gap in the zipper of her skirt which she could no longer close. She blamed the treacherous airplane food from flying so often to New York from her home in L.A.  One time I admired a tiny bee pin she wore on her lapel – part of her jewelry line.  She took it off and gave it to me.  I think of her every time I wear it.

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