NEW YORK — Howard Stern delivered the eulogy, Broadway singer-actress Audra McDonald sang “Smile” and bagpipers played “New York, New York” at Joan Rivers’ funeral Sunday, a star-studded send-off that — like the late comedian herself — brought together the worlds of Hollywood, theater, fashion and media.
At a funeral befitting a superstar, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus sang Broadway hits including “Hey Big Spender” before six-time Tony Award-winner McDonald sang her tribute to Rivers, a champion of theater for decades.
Tributes and reminiscences were delivered by TV anchor Deborah Norville, close friend Margie Stern, columnist Cindy Adams and Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, who spoke about how she respected her mother, who died Thursday at 81, and appreciated everyone’s support.
Hugh Jackman sang “Quiet Please, There’s a Lady On Stage” at the end of the memorial, and bagpipers from the New York City Police Department played on the streets as mourners filed out of Temple Emanu-El, many dabbing their eyes.
“She would love this. We’ve all said this so many times: The one person who would really think this is the greatest thing ever is the lady who it’s all about, and she’s not here,” said Norville afterward, amid the throngs of well-wishers and sound of bagpipes.
A legion of notables turned out to remember Rivers: comedians Kathy Griffin, Rosie O’Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg; E! network “Fashion Police” colleague and friend Kelly Osbourne; Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick; and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz.
Theater stars Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming and Tommy Tune were there. Record producer Clive Davis was, too. Fashion designers Carolina Herrera, Dennis Basso and Michael Kors were in attendance. Stars from TV such as Barbara Walters, Geraldo Rivera, Diane Sawyer, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb and Andy Cohen. Late night band leader Paul Shaffer. And moguls Barry Diller, Donald Trump and Steve Forbes.
“It was uplifting. We were celebrating her life,” Basso said.