Ban Lifted: Joan Rivers Returns to “Tonight” for First Time in Decades

The last time Joan Rivers graced The Tonight Show stage, Ronald Reagan was in The White House, Bill Cosby defined NBC’s Thursday night lineup and the octogenarian still had all of her original body parts (at least, we think she did).

Ah — memories.

After a series ban that spanned nearly three decades, the flippant comedienne, 80, sat down with freshly-minted Tonight host Jimmy Fallon for her first appearance on the quintessential late night series since 1986.

Or, as Joan put it, “four noses ago.”

It wasn’t always that way, Joan — who made headlines earlier this week for chastising Girls creator Lena Dunham about her weight — was once a Tonight show regular. She often appeared desk-side with Tonight legend Johnny Carson, her unique (read: slightly less brash) brand of humor leaving the audience in stitches.

Johnny hit the roof, however, when he learned that Joan had inked a deal to appear in her own (short-lived) late-night series with FOX. He cut off all contact with his old friend and vowed to never allow her on the Tonight Show stage again. That was 1987. Jay Leno upheld the ban when he took over the Tonight reigns in 1992.