NEW YORK — Howard Stern delivered the eulogy, Broadway singer and actress Audra McDonald sang “Smile” and bagpipers played “New York, New York” at Joan Rivers’s funeral Sunday, a star-studded send-off that — like the comedian herself — brought together the worlds of Hollywood, theater, fashion and the media.
At a funeral befitting a superstar, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus sang Broadway hits including “Hey Big Spender” before McDonald, a six-time Tony Award winner, sang her tribute to Rivers, a champion of theater for decades.
Tributes were delivered by TV anchor Deborah Norville, close friend Margie Stern, columnist Cindy Adams and Rivers’s daughter, Melissa, who spoke about how she respected her mother, who died Thursday at 81, and appreciated everyone’s support.
Actor Hugh Jackman sang “Quiet Please, There’s a Lady On Stage” at the end of the memorial, and bagpipers from the New York City Police Department played on the streets as mourners filed out of Temple Emanu-El.
“She would love this,” Norville said afterward, amid the throngs of well-wishers and the sound of bagpipes. “We’ve all said this so many times: The one person who would really think this is the greatest thing ever is the lady who it’s all about, and she’s not here.”
A legion of notables turned out to remember Rivers: comedians Kathy Griffin, Rosie O’Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg; E! network “Fashion Police” colleague and friend Kelly Osbourne; actors Sarah Jessica Parker and 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, Dennis Basso and Michael Kors were in attendance.
Stars from TV such as Barbara Walters, Geraldo Rivera, Diane Sawyer, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb and Andy Cohen attended, as did late-night TV band leader Paul Shaffer. The moguls Barry Diller, Donald Trump and Steve Forbes were there.
“It was uplifting,” Basso said. “We were celebrating her life.”
Mourners had lined up outside the Manhattan synagogue and waited for their names to be checked against a list before entering. A crowd of news media stood watch behind barriers, and fans from as far away as Australia lined the streets.
Actress Susan Claassen, who met Rivers in London in 2008 when both had one-woman shows, came from Tucson to honor her friend.
“I always like to say that in a world of knockoffs, Joan was an original,” she said.
Rivers detailed in her 2012 book “I Hate Everyone . . . Starting With Me” that she hoped for “a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action” and “Hollywood all the way.”
Instead of a rabbi talking, Rivers asked for “Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents” and “a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyoncé’s.”
Indeed, her wishes were so important that they were printed in the funeral program.
The program also included a page with three classic Rivers lines: “Can we talk?,” “Who are you wearing?” and “Because I’m a funny person.”
Rivers was a trailblazer for all comics, but especially for women. The raspy-voiced blonde with the brash New York accent was a TV talk-show host, a stage, film and TV actress, and a fashion critic, and she sold a line of jewelry.
The cause of death is being investigated. Rivers was hospitalized Aug. 28 after she went into cardiac arrest during what was said to be a routine procedure at a doctor’s office.
The New York state health department is investigating the circumstances, and the New York City medical examiner said tests to determine the cause of death were inconclusive.
Rivers’s publicist said that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to God’s Love We Deliver; Guide Dogs for the Blind; or Our House.