It was a star-studded send-off that – like late comedian herself – brought together the worlds of Hollywood, theatre, fashion and media.
At a funeral befitting a superstar, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus sang Broadway hits including Hey Big Spender before six-time Tony Award-winner McDonald sang her tribute to Rivers, a champion of theatre for decades.
Tributes and reminiscences were delivered by TV anchor Deborah Norville, close friend Margie Stern, columnist Cindy Adams and Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, who spoke about how she respected her mother and appreciated everyone’s support.
“It was uplifting. We were celebrating her life,” said fashion designer Dennis Basso.
Hugh Jackman sang Quiet Please, There’s A Lady On Stage at the end of the ceremony and bagpipers from the New York City Police Department played on the streets as mourners filed out of Temple Emanu-El, many dabbing their eyes.
The funeral programme included a page with three classic Rivers’ lines printed out: “Can we talk?”, “Who are you wearing?” and “Because I’m a funny person”.
A legion of famous faces turned out to remember Rivers, who died on Thursday aged 81: comedians Kathy Griffin, Rosie O’Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg; colleague and friend Kelly Osbourne, Sarah Jessica Parker and husband Matthew Broderick, and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz.
Theater stars Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming and Tommy Tune were there. Record producer Clive Davis was, too. Fashion designers Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors were in attendance.
Stars from TV such as Barbara Walters and Geraldo Rivera, came, along with moguls Barry Diller, Donald Trump and Steve Forbes.
Mourners lined up outside the Fifth Avenue synagogue and waited for their names to be checked.