The Time Joan Rivers Took Judge Judy and Cindy Adams on An 18th-Century Girlfriend Getaway

Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

The late Joan Rivers was many things—a trailblazing comedian, a fastidious filer, an acerbic critic of Hollywood fashion—but not many knew her as a history buff (beyond, perhaps, her often joking that she was older than dirt). And as she once gushed in a piece for the Daily Mail, for all of her expensive tastes, one of her most beloved vacation spots was Colonial Williamsburg.

"My favorite place in the world is my plastic surgeon's office, of course," Rivers wrote. "But I also adore Williamsburg in Virginia. It's tiny and magical and so nicely preserved."

Colonial Williamsburg is known as the world's largest living history museum. It's part of Virginia's "Historic Triangle," which also includes Jamestown and Yorktown—all important centers in the early years of the American colonies. Actors in full 18th-century regalia greet visitors, give talks about life in the revolutionary days, and put on demonstrations of everything from loading and firing muskets to cooking lessons in the Governor's Palace kitchens. Rivers first visited the town as a child—"which tells you how old Williamsburg is" she joked to the local newspaper, the Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily—and honeymooned there in 1955 with her first husband.

Rivers said in the Daily Mail that she often liked to go for a few days around Christmas, and she turned her December 2011 visit into a girlfriend getaway. Joining her were two longtime friends: New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams (close "since the day they first met, in 1847," Joan's daughter Melissa Rivers wrote in her tribute book to her mother), and Judith "Judge Judy" Sheindlin. "Another reason I love Judge Judy," Rivers joked in her book Diary of a Mad Diva, "She's worth $150 million. When I ask her if she wants to go on vacation with me to Tahiti, she never has to say, 'Let me check my budget,' because she owns Tahiti."

The Williamsburg Inn at Christmastime.
The Williamsburg Inn at Christmastime.
Via Tsuji, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The trio stayed at the luxury Williamsburg Inn, the kind with sunken marble bathtubs, chandeliers, and cozy afternoon teas by the fire (past guests include Shirley Temple, Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and John Travolta). Rivers had her hair done every morning in her bedroom by a local stylist she'd pre-booked while Judge Judy pecked away at her iPad "alongside … a 1773 portrait of whoever Thomas Bolling might've been," Adams reported in her column the following week.

Then, the women went out to see the sites. "We were three tough New Yorkers out to have a good time," Rivers told the local Daily Press. "What didn't we do."

They began with a horse-drawn carriage tour of Colonial Williamsburg led by a private Revolutionary City guide. "Trotting about we saw fifes, drums, muskets, blacksmiths … ladies in frill bonnets, white aprons … flags from the Mother Country and Brit street names," Adams ticked off in her Page Six column. "Enough to make future Queen Kate Middleton whimper: 'This place could've been ours.'"

A carriage in Colonial Williamsburg.
Brent Hoard, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Judge Judy tested out the high court judge's seat at the 244-year-old Courthouse, where crimes like petty theft and skipping church were tried, while Rivers did a little Fashion Police-ing of the costumed interpreters doomed to frumpy petticoats: "Lose the apron and just look fetching!" she quipped.

Adams, for her part, was entranced by the elaborate hairstyles … of the men. "Fie on powdered wigs because males were as bald as billiard balls. It was because they were stylish," she wrote. "Fashion was to shave one's head. The richer the dude the jazzier his toupee. Maidens in ye days of yore were attracted by the size of a guy's ringlet."

And like any group of longtime friends, they spent plenty of time just enjoying being together and catching up. "I felt sorry for everyone around us because all we did is laugh," Rivers said of their dinners at the local taverns.

"At Christmas [Williamsburg is] heaven," a wistful Rivers later recalled. "No cars are allowed and you've got the snow and the carol singers, the candlelight, the whole American thing. It may not be everybody's cup of tea, but it suits me."

This Course Will Teach You How to Play Guitar Like a Pro for $29

BartekSzewczyk/iStock via Getty Images
BartekSzewczyk/iStock via Getty Images

Be honest: You’ve watched a YouTube video or two in an attempt to learn how to play a song on the guitar. Whether it was through tabs or simply copying whatever you saw on the screen, the fun always ends when friends start throwing out requests for songs you have no idea how to play. So how about you actually learn how to play guitar for real this time?

It’s now possible to learn guitar from home with the Ultimate Beginner to Expert Guitar Lessons Bundle, which is currently on sale for $29. Grab that Gibson, Fender, or whatever you have handy, and learn to strum rhythms from scratch.

The strumming course will teach you how to count beats and rests to turn your hands and fingers into the perfect accompaniment for your own voice or other musicians. Then, you can take things a step further and learn advanced jamming and soloing to riff anytime, anywhere. This course will teach you to improvise across various chords and progressions so you can jump into any jam with something original. You’ll also have the chance to dive deep into the major guitar genres of bluegrass, blues, and jazz. Lessons in jam etiquette, genre history, and how to read music will separate you from a novice player.

This bundle also includes courses in ear training so you can properly identify any relative note, interval, or pitch. That way, you can play along with any song when it comes on, or even understand how to modify it into the key you’d prefer. And when the time comes to perform, be prepared with skilled hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, bends, trills, vibrato, and fret-tapping. Not only will you learn the basic foundations of guitar, you’ll ultimately be able to develop your own style with the help of these lessons.

The Ultimate Beginner to Expert Guitar Lessons Bundle is discounted for a limited time. Act on this $29 offer now to work on those fingertip calluses and play like a pro.

 

The Ultimate Beginner to Expert Guitar Lessons Bundle - $29

See Deal


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How the Trapper Keeper Trapped the Hearts of '80s and '90s Kids

Courtesy of Cinzia Reale-Castello
Courtesy of Cinzia Reale-Castello

No matter when or where you grew up, back-to-school shopping typically revolved around two things: clothing and school supplies. And if you’re an adult of a certain age, you probably had a Trapper Keeper on that latter list of must-buy items.

Like the stickers, skins, and cases that adorn your smartphones and laptops today, Trapper Keepers were a way for kids to express their individual personalities. The three-ring binders dominated classrooms in the '80s and '90s, and featured a vast array of designs—from colorful Lisa Frank illustrations to photos of cool cars and popular celebrities—that allowed kids to customize their organizational tools. 

In this episode of "Throwback," we're ripping open the Velcro cover and digging into the history of the Trapper Keeper. You can watch the full episode below.

Be sure to head here and subscribe so you don't miss an episode of "Throwback," where we explore the fascinating stories behind some of the greatest toys and trends from your childhood.