Joan Rivers Dies at 81: Barbara Walters Shares the Joan Rivers You Never Saw

PHOTO: Barbara Walters remembers Joan Rivers.
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Few knew Joan Rivers better than Barbara Walters, who recalled her "personal friend" after the comedian died at age 81 today.

"We worked together many times," Walters said. "She was on 'The View' very often, but she was also a personal friend. ... You see her as being brash and sort of insulting, especially on the 'Fashion Police.' ... More than anything in the world, Joan loved to perform. ... Three people in the room, Joan would perform. I think if she could have known the response now, worldwide, she would have died smiling."

Read: Joan Rivers: Twitter Mourns the Death of the Comedic Legend at 81

Related: Joan Rivers Dead at 81: Inside the Comedian's Close Relationship With Her Daughter Melissa Rivers

"The only other thing that meant as much to her [as performing] was, of course, her daughter, Melissa," Walters added,

Walters, a legend in her own right for ABC News, said her own daughter and Melissa Rivers grew up together.

"She had a difficult marriage, her husband committed suicide, this was not just one big laugh," Walters said. "She did a documentary a few years ago that she thought was wonderful, I thought was sad, showing her in all circumstances performing anywhere, everywhere -- in a basement, in a roof, anything for an audience. That was the true Joan ... and the worst day for her in her calendar was if it was an empty day and she wasn't making appearances."

The news trailblazer added that when Rivers started performing five decades ago, there were no female comedians.

"She was the first and she was always original," Walters said.

Walters added that Rivers was upfront with her over the years and joked about her various plastic surgeries.

"She joked about what her grandson would say when he came in the room and didn't recognize her," Walters said. "She made it a part of her act instead of denying it."

Walters added, "This is worldwide attention, and all ages. The 'Fashion Police' made Joan a delight to young people, and people my age remember how wonderful and funny and outspoken [she was]. ... Her private life was not that happy. The bad marriage, there was not a man in her life. It was her daughter and her grandchild."

Walters said the two icons used to have dinner together and "she loved going to the theater, we did that a lot."

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