Joan Rivers Hired Body Guards After Jerry Lewis Death Threat


Jerry Lewis has long been upfront about the fact  he doesn’t find women to be funny.  But who knew that he hated women comics so much that he sent them death threats?  

In a recent interview with SiriusXM radio host Ron Bennington,  Joan Rivers revealed that there was a time when she and her husband had to hire security because she was afraid for her life after Lewis made some very serious, very real threats.  During a one hour interview with Bennington for his Unmasked series, Rivers explained what lead to the death threats, and why she needed body guards to protect her.  She also talked with Bennington about her new book, her recent fight with Kristen Stewart and how emotional it was for her to return to the Carson Show after 27 years.

Rivers had thought her feud with Lewis was old news until last month, when Lewis brought it up during a SiriusXM Town Hall.  Lewis admitted that he had once sent Rivers a death threat.   ‘If you find it necessary to discuss me, my career, or my kids ever again,” he told her, “I promise you I will get somebody from Chicago to beat your (expletive) head off.’

Joan said, she couldn’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to voluntarily admit to sending a genuine death threat.

“He talks about it! Do you understand you could be arrested? That is a threat! I mean that is a real threat. We hired guards, my husband and I, it was like a real serious thing. And we didn’t take him to court and do all that. But why this moron brought…he must be slipping. You wouldn’t bring up that you threatened to beat someone up or kill them.”

“Who are you? You unfunny lucky, stupid asshole.”

At the time, she told Bennington, he did know people.  The feud started when Rivers did Jerry Lewis’ annual telethon.  “He was standing there with a child next to him saying, ‘this kid is gonna die.'” Rivers  recalled.  “And I said, I will never do this telethon again. You do not say in front of a little boy who is going to die, ‘this child is going to die.’ Who are you? You unfunny lucky, stupid asshole.”  Rivers told the audience.  “So,  he took umbridge.”

After receiving the death threat, Joan and her husband hired body guards, and decided that she would never talk about him again.  Although Rivers is willing to take on lawyers, and verbal fights, and corporations, she draws the line at  bodily harm, whether its Jerry Lewis or anyone else making the threats.  “Very few people have threatened to have the mafia….and if they do, I’ll shut up.  What am I going to fight with Kayne West?” Rivers said.  My last words are not going to be  “but i was only kidding!”

But Jerry Lewis was the last person who ever threatened her, and that was a long time ago.  “And the French find him funny? I find that fascinating.”

Looks like she’s not afraid anymore.

You can hear the interview in its entirety exclusively on SiriusXM satellite radio.  The interview is airing tonight at 7pm et on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog Comedy Hits 99, and Sunday at 2pm and 7pm et , and its also available through SiriusXM’s On Demand service.


Joan Rivers’  currently stars in two television shows, Fashion Police and Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best, as well as producing and starring in a web-based interview series  In Bed With Joan.  She also just released her 12th book, Diary of a Mad Diva.  Follow her on twitter @Joan_Rivers and you can purchase her new book Diary of a Mad Diva, on  

Unmasked — an hour long interview show talking about creativity with comedians– is taped before a live studios audience.  In addition to hosting Unmasked, Ron Bennington also hosts Ron Bennington Interviews and is the primary voice on The Ron and Fez Show weekdays from noon to 3pm et on SiriusXM.  For information on how to get tickets to tapings of Unmasked, follow @UnmaskedShow on twitter.


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