Also Credited As:Melissa Joan Rivers, Melissa Warburg Rosenberg
|Melissa Warburg Rosenberg on January 20, 1968 in New York City, New York, USA|
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Born on Jan. 20, 1968 in New York City, Rivers was raised the only child of her famous mother, comedian and plastic surgery aficionado Joan Rivers, and television producer Edgar Rosenberg. Having relocated to Los Angeles when she was four years old, Rivers attended the private John Thomas Dye School in Bel-Air and the Marlborough School for Girls in Los Angeles, eventually graduating from the Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. She moved on to an Ivy League education, studying European history at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she was also a founding member of the Tabard Society, a secret society similar to a sorority that performed charitable work for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. But in 1987, tragedy struck when Rivers' father committed suicide by overdosing on prescription drugs. Rosenberg was Joan's manager and producer on his wife's ill-fated talk show, "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers" (1986-87), which aired on the then fledgling television Fox network. When the network ousted Rosenberg, Joan objected and the network fired both. Her mother believed Rosenberg's depression was caused both by medication he was taking following a 1984 heart attack and his alleged humiliation by Fox.
Despite the grave personal setback, Melissa graduated from Penn with distinction in 1989 and returned to Los Angeles, where she studied with acting coaches Sanford Meisner and Jered Barkley. By 1991, she was guest starring on series like "Beverly Hills 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000) and "Silk Stalkings" (CBS/USA, 1991-99). But it would be as a co-host alongside her famous mother for red carpet interviews during major awards shows that Rivers found her niche. On the flip side, with fame came calls of blatant nepotism, including reports that Joan included Melissa's inclusion in all projects as part of her contractual agreements. Not surprisingly, these accusations would haunt the younger Rivers. In 1994, the mother/daughter pair first hosted E! Entertainment Television's pre-awards show for The Golden Globes and the following year returned to cover The Academy Awards. In the ensuing years, millions tuned in for their pre-show interviews and post-show commentary on celebrity fashion. In 2003, Rivers and her mother were lured away to the TV Guide Channel for a three-year deal reportedly worth between $6-8 million. Meanwhile, between the years 2002-07, they covered The Emmy Awards, The People's Choice Awards, The Grammy Awards, The Country Music Awards, and conducted their 1,000th red carpet interview at the "58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards" (NBC, 2006).
In between hosting duties, Rivers found time for other onscreen ventures. She starred opposite her mother as herself in the Movie-of-the-Week, "Tears and Laughter: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story" (NBC, 1994), which chronicled the duo's relationship in the aftermath of her father's suicide. Rivers also reported for other programs on her own, including "CBS This Morning" (CBS, 1987-1996) and "Hangin' with MTV." After serving as a host for "Celebrity Weddings: In Style" (ABC, 1998), she appeared as herself on an episode of the sitcom "Just Shoot Me" (NBC, 1997-2003), while making a guest appearance on the drama "Providence" (NBC, 1999-2002). She also became a frequent fixture on game shows and competitive reality shows after two guest appearances on the "The New Hollywood Squares" (syndicated, 1986-89), which led to joining the later incarnation "Hollywood Squares" (syndicated, 1998-2004). She also spent part of 2003 roughing it through the Australian rainforest for "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" (ABC, 2003), winning second place behind professional dancer and Jennifer Lopez's former husband, Cris Judd.
Following an appearance as herself on the reality show "Switched Up" (ABC Family, 2004) and as a talk show host for the TV movie "Out for Blood" (Syfy, 2004), Rivers landed an episode of "The L Word" (Showtime, 2004-09) before being seen as herself in "Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber" (Oxygen Media, 2005). She next appeared alongside her mother and butted heads with both Ice-T's family and Raven Symone's family on "Celebrity Family Feud" (NBC, 2008), on which she helped raise $50,000 for their charity, Guide Dogs for the Blind. The following year, she drew much unwanted attention to herself after being canned by Donald Trump on "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ). Her firing led to an epic exit from the boardroom, complete with verbally assaulting both contestants and crew, and refusing to grant an exit interview. Her mother, also a contestant, threatened to quit in the midst of her own meltdown over her daughter's dismissal, but stayed and ultimately won the competition. The younger Rivers redeemed herself by raising over $22,000 for Alzheimer's research following a celebrity edition of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (ABC/syndicated, 1999- ).