Edgar Rosenberg, Joan Rivers’ Late Husband: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Edgar Rosenberg is the late husband of Joan Rivers, who often joked about his death in her stand-up acts. When the two first met, Rivers immediately fell for Rosenberg and the two were married within just four days by a judge in New York.


1. Rivers Cheated on Rosenberg Many Times

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In a 2012 interview with Howard Stern, Rivers confessed how she treated on Rosenberg many times, including a tryst with Robert Mitchum. The two met while appearing on The Tonight Show. She also admits in the interview that she left Rosenberg several times during their marriage.

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Rivers was first married to a man named James Sanger, but her first marriage was a bust after only six months. Rivers had the marriage annulled after Sanger revealed he did not want to have children, information he hadn’t told her until after they were married. About a decade later is when Rivers married Edgar Rosenberg. When Rivers spoke of Rosenberg, she said:

It was a good match. We filled each other’s gaps like two pieces of a puzzle. I gave him warmth. He gave me style.


2. Rosenberg Committed Suicide

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Edgar Rosenberg was found dead room of the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia on August 15, 1987. Rosenberg reportedly overdosed on Valium, left a suicide note, and left three tapes with messages he recorded on them. One was for Joan, one for his daughter, and one for his business manager. People reported:

During the night, Edgar, 62, had taken his own life by a combination of Valium and alcohol. He had been found by security guards in his hotel room in Philadelphia, where he had gone to see his closest friend, Tom Pileggi.

Rivers’ rep had told People that Rosenberg had suffered a major heart attack in October 1984 and underwent quadruple bypass surgery. He was reported to have been in poor health just before his suicide and was very depressed. The Philadelphia Inquirer writing about his death said:

Rosenberg was often the butt of on-stage jokes by his wife, but she said she “fell apart” when he was stricken by the heart attack. He had closely managed her career since their marriage.

Flashing forward, when Rivers was asked about comedian Robin Williams’ death, she said she had a tough time hearing the news because of her husband’s suicide, though it was many years ago. She told the Asbury Park Press:

I still can’t believe it. He was a genius. Whenever I would interview him, I knew it would be fun. It hits hard for me since my husband (Edgar Rosenberg) committed suicide. Think about it. Robin had everything, a great deal of success, more money than he could ever spend. Respect from the industry. He was a comic, who could do the serious roles. All that and he still killed himself. You never know what’s happening with people. They can have it all and still be in this very dark place.


3. The Married Couple Worked Together

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Rosenberg was a German-born American film producer who worked with Rivers on many of her gigs. According to People, Rosenberg had a lot of connections.

He had mastered the machinery of the show business world that was her consuming ambition. He was the No. 1 assistant and virtual son to the legendary public relations consultant Anna Rosenberg (no relation). He had worked as an assistant producer for NBC, and had produced five feature films, including The Poppy Is Also a Flower.

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It was actually through work that Rosenberg and Rivers found a great bond. People wrote:

Work had always been a bond for both Edgar and Joan. In fact, it was work that brought them together. Joan, working as a writer and a comic, met Edgar in 1965 in New York. Billed as a funny writer, she had just scored on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and Edgar brought her to Jamaica to work on a script for his friend Peter Sellers.

At the time of his death, Rosenberg had been involved in a major real estate project in Pennsylvania with Tom Pileggi. The deal had been worth $19 million.


4. Their Daughter Is Melissa Rivers

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Melissa Rivers was actually born Melissa Rosenberg. Joan and Edgar’s daughter Melissa was actually the one who was first notified of her father’s death. People reported:

On the morning of Aug. 14 the call came first to Edgar Rosenberg’s daughter, Melissa, 19, whose awful duty it became to carry the news to her mother, comedienne Joan Rivers, 54.

Right before Edgar took his life, he actually called Melissa and told her she had to become an adult now and that things would be very difficult for her. People wrote:

He told her, “I’ve put everything in order for you. You must be an adult. Things are going to be very difficult for you.” She cried out to him, “Daddy, we’re a team and a team doesn’t let each other down. I need you. I’m not an adult.” She reported the conversation to her father’s psychiatrist. Shortly afterward, Edgar phoned Joan and Melissa to say he was coming home and then called his psychiatrist to make an appointment.

Joan and Melissa were worried, but thought that Edgar would return home to them.


5. He Escaped Nazi Germany

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He was born in Bremerhaven, Germany in 1925. Rosenberg was extremely well-educated, attending college at Cambridge University in England, according to UPI report on his death. He and his family fled Germany for Denmark when Hitler rose to power, after the Nazis invaded Denmark, the family relocated to South Africa.

When Melissa was growing up, Joan used to tell her the stories about Edgar and Nazi Germany saying:

Daddy was as much a war victim as a person put in a camp. That boy was whipped of all security in his life. Every time he had something, got anyplace, it was taken away from him.

People reports the background of Edgar’s family fleeing Nazi Germany. It was quite the journey for them.

When Edgar was a small boy, his family fled Nazi Germany, taking virtually nothing with them—and even his pet canary and cache of tin soldiers were taken from him at the border. For two years, the Rosenbergs lived in Denmark where he was an outsider, barely able to speak the language. Then they fled the Nazis again, this time to South Africa and a third start in another wholly new world.