Joan Rivers' Private Life Marked By Joy, Tragedy

Part 4: As Rivers' career was taking off, she lost her husband and struggled to reconnect with her daughter.
5:51 | 09/06/14

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Transcript for Joan Rivers' Private Life Marked By Joy, Tragedy
Reporter: Joan rivers' personal life was so intertwined with her career that to separate the two was to do the impossible. Mom, you look amazing. Melissa, I saw what's going on under my chin. I don't want to be the one the president has to pardon on Thanksgiving. Reporter: Much of the time if she's wasn't on stage doing stand up, she was with her 46-year-old daughter who was often part of her work. Reality TV, competition shows, red carpets -- all woven into Joan's personal life. I think people really, really responded to the relationship between the two of them and they were very co-dependent on each other they had they did all the things that probably mothers and daughters are not supposed to do. But they loved each other so much. Reporter: She was the ultimate jewish mother, always looking after her family. Where are you going? Meetings. Like that? Yeah. You know my rule. We are in New York, before you leave the house you look in the mirror and you put one more things on. Mom, I'm going to a meeting not studio 54. Reporter: And that family included her 13-year-old grandson, cooper. You're so cute. Everyone tells you how cute you are. Reporter: The family business started in 1965, when the struggling comedian met a producer named Edgar Rosenberg. Joan rarely talked about her husband as seriously as she did in this 2010 documentary. I met him and married him four days later. We worked on projects together so it was a family business. I bought the book "The joy of sex," okay, and I got, do you read that chapter 11? Where you wrap yourself up totally in Saran wrap? And I lay -- oh yeah, it's great. And I laid down on the dining room table when my husband came home he says leftovers again? Reporter: Publicly, she was tough and brazen. But when it came to her husband, who managed her private life, she was protective, calling him her "Rock of gibraltar." As she told Barbara Walters in 1982. Does Edgar ever mind your making all these jokes about him? I mean, you make terrible jokes. Not one joke about Edgar. Stop and think. No, they are all about -- All about me. I have never made a joke about my husband. People think I do, he is such a gentleman. Do some of them so we -- My wedding night, Edgar said, let me help you with the buttons. I said, I'm naked. That's a joke about my body, not about my husband. Reporter: Three years later she and Edgar give birth to their daughter Melissa and they moved their family to los Angeles. When I got married thank goodness, I always knock on wood my mother, thrilled. She wore a cheerleading outfit I mean just standing there going hooray for Joan. Reporter: In spite of her tireless work as a stand-up, Joan tried to be home every night, as Melissa explained in the documentary. Everyone's like, oh what's it like living with a legend which is why I always say to people you don't realize how in these very extraordinary, abnormal circumstances what a Normal world my parents created. Reporter: As Melissa grew from young girl to teenager, Joan's career was taking off. It's the Late Show starring Joan rivers. Reporter: In 1986 Joan launched that late night talk show on fox, making her husband the executive producer. But when the show failed, Edgar took it very personally. Soon after, Joan and Melissa got an unimaginable phone call, Edgar had committed suicide. Mother and daughter were shattered. I'm still furious with him. Son of a . They say to me, oh go to heaven and you will meet Edgar. I'll kill him. You left me with no money, a child that was destroyed, no career and you checked out. Go Yourself. Reporter: Melissa was also bitter but it was aimed at her mother. It was very hard in the beginning because she blamed me. Reporter: Joan left malibu to return home to New York to make a new beginning. It was a terrible year. Terrible year. And finally I said I'm going back to New York, and I'm going to do something, so I called Neil Simon and said, can I try out for Broadway bound and then we got Emmy's, and it was a great show. Reporter: Professionally Joan was starting to pick up the pieces, but personally she was still trying to rebuild her relationship with her daughter. And they found their own way to deal with the lingering grief, in front of the camera. In what they called a cathartic experience, they made a movie playing themselves. I'm very, very angry with you. You haven't spent one minute at home. Reporter: As they continued to heal, Joan started including Melissa in her work. Melissa, the straight man. To Joan's punchlines. They even moved into the same house showcasing their lives in a reality TV series. Hey mom. A little dribble a little dribble. Why is your dog in my house? You know I always travel with Lola. She -- she's the Gail to my Oprah. Reporter: Her talent was so bright over the decades, her family shared the spotlight. I love you and your life has meant something to me and more importantly you've meant something to me. You've made a difference. I hope when you get older you will get your face done. I knew that's where it was

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

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