SHOW BUSINESS: Joan in Full Throat

The indefatigable Rivers can act as well as talk -- all about anguish -- and she demonstrates it in a TV and Broadway blitz

Few are the descendants of the Greta Garbo school of celebrity reticence. Nowadays the aggressively reclusive are outnumbered by the aggressively revealing -- legions of withering semistars who feel compelled to serve up their private torment for public consumption. Books and movies happily package the failed relationship, the traumatic childhood, the life of chemically enhanced misery. Catharsis boosts careers.

And yet some celebrities enter the confessional business motivated by something more substantial than the prospect of publicity: the sunny conviction that the saga of their cruel lives will serve as a morality tale.

Joan Rivers possesses that certitude and has gone...

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