A Memory of Two Joans | Alan Shayne

September 6, 2014 12:38 AM

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A Memory of Two Joans | Alan Shayne

I first met Joan Rivers almost 50 years ago when I was a casting director working on The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster. Most of the film took place in wealthy suburbia so the actors had to seem like upper class wasps. However there was one scene in a public swimming pool that required working class types. When it came time to cast a girl at the pool, the director Frank Perry said, "I know the perfect one -- she's from Brooklyn and I saw her comedy act in a small club. She's very ordinary, and she'll give us just the right contrast with the rich people." The part was small, but Joan Rivers was perfectly good if unmemorable.

Twelve years later I was in Hollywood as president of television at Warner Brothers where I had put Vincent Price and his wife Coral Browne in a series. We became friends and they asked me to dinner one night. When I arrived with my partner, as we referred to them in those days, Joan and her husband...

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