The Dynamic Brand Behind Joan Rivers

Part 5: Joan Rivers was also a businesswoman, whose brand included cosmetics, fashion and charity.
4:27 | 09/06/14

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Transcript for The Dynamic Brand Behind Joan Rivers
Reporter: Joan rivers was more than a comedian, she was a brand. A one-woman empire worth an estimated $150 million. Like, I'm a racist. Yeah, right. Let me tell you I don't give a If you're white or black or yellow or green as long as you can do my hair. Yes! Reporter: At age 81, rivers was still a tireless dynamo just last week, covering both the mtv "VMA awards" and the "Emmy's." We'll be back in a jiffy with more looks that are iffy. Reporter: In one of rivers' most insightful moments shown here in the documentary, "Joan rivers: A piece of work," we see that drive and determination to stay relevant. I'll show you fear. That's fear. If my book ever looked like this, it would mean that nobody likes me. I'm totally forgotten. She had many stories of not getting the check as a woman performer at a nightclub and coming back the next day and the check wouldn't be there, so I think over time she had to build a smart business tough skin around her. These were the good years. There were the good years. She was successful because she was a, really smart and B, she looked for opportunity. He wanted to provide for her family. She wanted to live well. Reporter: Live well and live large. At home, Joan enjoyed the trappings of success with an opulence usually reserved for Caesar's palace. Have you ever been to a private dinner in someone's home where they have finger bowls? She lived beautifully, she lived elegantly. In this business, you have to work hard. We can do anything in this country, but you've got to work hard for it. Reporter: Just this summer, she released her 12th book, "Diary of a mad diva," a top ten "New York times" best seller. She was a Broadway regular and recorded several well-received records -- one of which was nominated for a grammy. I will go anywhere. I will get on any plane too the business, any part of this. Writing directing, acting. Stand-up. I just love the business. Reporter: Her business brand extended to cosmetics, fashion and even a jewelry accessories line that generated $4.5 million in sales annually and quickly became a favorite on QVC. Love you. Mean it! It all came from that instinct that she felt that she was one of our customers. She knew what our customers wanted and cared about and she could bring that customer a little joy and a little inspiration. Reporter: Behind the public persona and brash comedy, a softer side of rivers, bringing smiles to others in an entirely different way. So incredibly generous. There's a scene in the movie where she's writing checks. I mean, stacks of checks. I'm a small industry. Most people who work with me if they have children, I send the children to private school. Joan competed for god's love on celebrity apprentice in 2009. Reporter: She ended up winning and with it more than half a million dollars for her beloved charity. She saved us in some ways during the worst of the recession. The amount of money that she raised for us really, we call her an angel. Reporter: God's love we deliver. They provide meals and support to those with life altering illnesses. I think this teaches you what Thanksgiving is really about. I know it sounds corny, but we do this. This is our fourth year and by giving to other people, you sit down at your table and realize lucky you are. What's really most meaningful is it's from the heart. She means it. She's not just doing good because that's something to check off on her list. She really means it. Reporter: A powerful offstage legacy for this onstage legend.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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