WHEN WE LOSE A LOVED ONE WE ALL GO THROUGH THE SAME THING--It's awful, sad, you get angry, you have to deal with a funeral, a burial, cremation or no cremation, reception, etc. It's kind of like the opposite of a wedding and has the same problems. BUT WHEN IT'S A CELEBRITY, IT'S SO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT.
With families and close friends of celebrities there is an immediate loss of privacy. You cannot mourn in peace. You need to be somewhere all the time and you need to (in public) have on what I call the "Fake Face." You can't leave the house without guards. Sometimes you have to hold the real crying for two weeks because there is so much going on. I want to tell you right now that Melissa Rivers has been flawless in running the show and taking care of every detail and every one. She has managed the media, she "produced" Joan's ending at the hospital for all of us. She is facing public judgment of her choices because her mother was beloved by the public. (She's getting raves). And, very importantly, it takes much longer to heal. You are constantly bombarded almost 24 hours a day, and everyone at once seems to depend on you.
And then there's silence. The hoopla goes away and you are left in your house to process and deal with the reality. Trust me, Melissa and Cooper won't be alone.
I have written a remembrance of Joan which will appear in the Hollywood Reporter magazine this week. I will print it here once it has been published. That was a real honor to be asked to do that by my "alma mater."
Memory Lane..............Please note: I'm deliberately keeping these descriptions short. I'm saving the details for "the book."
Cass Elliot died in 1974. I'd had dinner with her the night before she left to do her London engagement. We went to Mr. Chow. I'd never seen her happier, and she asked me to go with her. I told her that the notice was too short and I'd see her when she got back. Well, two days later I was in the "city room" of the Hollywood Reporter and an assistant said, "You're Cass Elliot's friend. Does she spell Elliot with one t or two?" I asked why. He told me she was dead. In a state of shock I called her rental apartment in London and her manager, Allan Carr, answered the phone. He begged me to issue a story in the Reporter that she died because she choked on a ham sandwich. I knew it wasn't true, but I did it any for my friend. A celebrity can't just die. Things need to be "managed."
When Rick Nelson died on New Year's Eve, 1985, I was the one who went to the airport to pick up his daughter, Tracy Nelson, who flew in right away from a ski trip. I sat at Rick's house with a dazed and devastated mother (Harriet) and the rest of the family. They were in no shape to take care of anything--deal with press, funeral, etc. There is no way to describe the burden on the family of a celebrity decedent. They can't mourn. It goes right to business.
With Phoebe Snow, I had a year-and-a-half to prepare for a death, but prepare you have to do. Guests lists, visitors, press releases, family, rumors, websites, etc. It's never simple.
Dusty Springfield's passing was a mess of people trying to control everything. I just stepped away from the insanity. It was too much.