Joan Rivers had a joke for everything. The comedian, who died unexpectedly in September 2014, cracked wise about even the most respected actors—no one was safe from her wit. A new book titled Joan Rivers Confidential, written by Melissa Rivers (Joan’s daughter) with Scott Currie, includes letters Rivers wrote and received from some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Among them is a letter from Rivers to Oscar-winner Kathy Bates on the fallout of a joke Rivers had made at Bates’s expense.
Per Page Six, Bates was reportedly upset after Rivers joked that the Titanic wouldn’t have sunk if Bates, who played Molly Brown in the 1997 James Cameron movie, hadn’t been on it. Rivers replied with the following complimentary note to Bates:
“The fact that people even know our names is a gift from God, so relax, enjoy your fame, and SMILE,” Rivers wrote. “Please know that I am a loyal, devoted, longtime fan of yours. (P.S. I also took your side in Misery.) Love and Kisses, Joan XOXO.
Rivers rarely hesitated to make a crack about another star’s weight. As Vanity Fair reported, the book also includes similar jokes that Rivers made about Elizabeth Taylor, including one that read: “She has a bumper sticker that says, ‘Save the whales’ and in small print, ‘for appetizers.’ ” Melissa Rivers told V.F. that her mother knew for a fact that Taylor was not bothered by the jokes because they didn’t “hurt her where she lives.”
And the target of Rivers’s most vicious cracks was, inevitably, herself. “I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery,” she said once, per Glamour.
Rivers’s self-deprecating humor seemed to be infectious. Included in the book is a letter from Meryl Streep, making a joke at her own expense: “Stephen Hawking and I could do a show about black holes, and then, I could disappear into one, a star collapsing in upon itself until it becomes at once invisible and incomparably dense.”