Ode to Joy: Robin, Joan and Laughter's Long Life

January 28, 2015 7:15 PM

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Ode to Joy: Robin, Joan and Laughter's Long Life

"Dying is easy, comedy is difficult." So goes the oft-quoted epitaph, attributed to the actor Edmund Gwenn, who played the Miracle on 34th Street's jolly Santa. But for Robin, the converse may have been true. Comedy, for him, was as easy as breathing. To lose the mental acuity that defined him may have been the more difficult death. If his thoughts were anything like his full-throttle improvisations, it's hard to imagine Robin finding solace in that storm of inner turmoil.

Joan's life was also touched by suicide. Her husband and manager, Edgar, killed himself, leaving her in financial debt with a young daughter to raise on her own. It was then she contemplated canceling herself, like her pioneering program. (Her eponymous The Late Show: Starring Joan Rivers would have...

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