Melissa Rivers’ life has always been an open book. The only child of groundbreaking comedian Joan Rivers and her producer husband Edgar Rosenberg, Melissa’s home life was often reflected
in her mother’s jokes.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Melissa first entered the entertainment field as an actress, appearing on ’90s TV series like Beverly Hills, 90210 and Silk Stalkings. With time, Melissa found her perfect niche by just being herself as a red carpet correspondent, a reality TV star, an author and a cohost of Fashion Police.
Today, Melissa, 52, is a single mom to son Cooper, 19, and continues to share her candid thoughts on life, love and contemporary culture on her podcast “Group Text With Melissa Rivers.”
“Right now, I haven’t found anything that I’m not willing to have a conversation about,” she says of the podcast, which was born of the texts she’s shared with her friends through the pandemic. “Most of the time, I approach everything with the thought that we are all in this together,” she says.
How have you handled the pandemic?
Oh, I’ve definitely struggled. I’m an only child and a single parent, so it was just me and my son. I thought about what a small family we are — we’re a team of two — and that made me sad in a lot of ways.
Did quarantining together bring you and Cooper closer?
The silver lining is that our relationship really did go to another level. We have always been exceptionally close, but I think we both figured out a lot of things about the other and learned how to argue and then let it go.
Cooper’s in college now?
He had his freshman year cut short. I had already gone through so much of the empty nest drama and he just had his first real taste of freedom. So [his return home] had some complicated moments. But he handled it very well considering everything.
It’s been six years since your mom, Joan, passed away. What do you think she would make of all that’s going on today?
It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I think the first thing [that would have upset her] is the cancel culture. And the second would be the frustration of being stifled creatively because of that. We’ve got to find our laugh again. We’ve all forgotten how to laugh.
What do you miss most about your mom?
I often think of the beautiful life she created. Cooper and I have gotten very emotional thinking about the things we did together and my mother’s ability to make even the most mundane tasks special. We look back on the times we traveled together or were together at our house in Connecticut and New York [with a lot of feeling].
Did you keep any mementos from your mom?
Oh, I kept a lot of stuff. I have two silver cups on my vanity. One was Cooper’s baby cup. The other is a cup that my mother kept in her bathroom for her toothbrush. I have some of my makeup brushes in it. Every morning, I sit there and think of her.
That’s so nice.
My mom loved to paint and draw. I also have a drawing that she did of me and Cooper while we were sitting on the beach. I have that framed in my bathroom.
What are some of your favorite memories of your father, Edgar?
It’s funny when I think of my dad, I think of his hands. He had hands that just always made me feel safe.
You became active promoting suicide prevention and mental health issues following his 1987 death.
Yes, I’m on the board of the Hirsch Mental Health Services and Suicide Prevention. Suicide is such a hot, big topic for me. I just encourage everyone to be aware and not feel stigmatized to have discussions about suicide and mental health … You must talk to someone. You must reach out.
Many more people are having issues with anxiety and depression these days.
Yes, I’ve been grappling quite a bit with loneliness — my cousins are back east, Cooper’s back in school and I don’t have a big family. I have amazing, wonderful, caring friends, but the thing I struggle with is that there is not someone to put their arms around me and say, “It’s going to be okay” or “You’re doing a great job.” But I don’t want to be in a relationship just for the sake of a relationship.
So, you’re not dating?
It’s hard. Men, in general, fall into two categories. The first are looking for somebody young who they could potentially start a family with. The other finally have their kids out of the house and are done with all that. I’ve gone on dates with men who said, “The next thing I’ll be excited about is being a grandparent.” I’m thinking, “Oh my God, I would kill myself if that was all I was excited about.”
So what are you excited about these days? Any upcoming projects?
Well, number one is that I have to finish my book, which is due in December. I will also be continuing my podcast. I’d love to turn “Group Text With Melissa Rivers” into a TV show.
Who would be your perfect dream guest for the show?
Oh, that depends. I’d love to have comedians like Dave Chappelle. I would love to have George Clooney. And Brad Pitt, because he has a sense of humor. I’d also like to have my secret crush [TV journalist] Don Lemon. I love that he is so smart.
Did your parents hand down any important life lessons to you?
The biggest is “This too shall pass.” It’s twofold. In one sense, it’s ‘Don’t worry you can survive anything.’ On the other hand, it’s about being appreciative of the moment you’re in right now. Appreciate when things are good because just like everything in life, “This too shall pass.”
— Reporting by Lexi Ciccone
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