Remembering Joan Rivers

Barbara Walters discusses her friendship with Rivers and her private life.
4:00 | 09/05/14

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Transcript for Remembering Joan Rivers
huge showbiz affair. I sat down with her a couple years back and she revealed the private pain that fueled the humor, heart break over her husband and her friendship with Johnny Carson. Reporter: We will never forget Joan rivers allowing us back stage here in New York City. She would perform up until the end. But much of America first saw Joan on ed Sullivan. Here's little Joan rivers! Reporter: Joan rivers, emerging from behind that curtain nearly 50 years ago. Were you pregnant on ed Sullivan? Pregnant, you weren't allowed to say it. Soon we're going to hear the pitter patter of little feet. That was breaking ground? That was breaking ground to say pitter patter of little feet. Reporter: Hers was a ground breaking and sometimes back breaking journey. This is where my career has come to, I'm sitting on a stool that's coming apart. Reporter: She invited us to her New York City apartment, the photographs everywhere, and us, too. I usually don't let people come over unless I'm very sad or very drunk. Reporter: Joan took us back to her first days on the "Tonight show" with Johnny Carson. Right smack then and there, changed my life. Weren't you the first permanent guest host? Yeah, and only. Reporter: That gig with Carson would lead to another offer to do late night comedy on another network. As soon as I got the fox show I called Johnny and said I've got it. He hung up on me and never, never spoke to me again. Reporter: But her show was soon over and so was her friendship with Carson. As Joan struggled, her husband was struggling. He took his life in 1987. Humor comes from great pain and great anger. With my husband I had both barrels. I'm still not over his suicide. I'm still furious with him. They say to me, oh, you'll go to heaven and meet Edgar. I'll kill him! Reporter: Joan, a single mother was completely alone personally and privately and then the call. A daytime talk show in the works up against Oprah and Donahue at the emmys. At the winner is -- I'm shaking. Joan rivers! Two years ago I couldn't get a job in this business. I could not get a job. It's so sad that he's not here because it was my husband, Edgar Rosenberg who always said you can turn things around. Reporter: A decade later she was back again on the red carpet asking and saying anything. She talked openly about her many plastic surgeries and how she explained it in the beginning. Her daughter still a baby. Of course my eyes were black and blue and I was carrying Melissa. No one did their eyes in those days. People would say what happened to you and I would say, the baby punched me in the eyes. They bought it. People were so stupid in those days. Poor Melissa. The kid hit me in the eyes. Reporter: It turned out behind all of that humor, humility. I'm proud of nothing, my darling. I am swimming upstream. I don't know where it's gone. If you don't do what you want to do, you're a fool. Joan rivers sitting down with us. Barbara Walters with us now. Joan was your friend. Was she the same privately as she was publicly? Publicly we know, brash, she would say anything, all the things that women wanted to say and perhaps didn't. Privately she was very elegant, a houseful of antiques and silver and rather quiet. I'm curious, Barbara, if she had any idea this these final days about the support that came in from all over the world, what would she have made of it? We have all said she would like nothing more than to work, and to know that she had this kind of an audience even when she was unanxious, I think she would have been smiling. I will miss her. Barbara Walters with us tonight on her friend Joan rivers. We'll have much more coming up tonight on "Nightline." So many people remembering Joan rivers tonight.

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

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