Crowds gather for private Joan Rivers funeral

Howard Stern, Billy Bush and Steve Forbes were among the early arrivals to Joan Rivers' funeral Sunday in New York, a somber and private event for the pioneering comedian held under clear skies.

Dozens of notables were expected to turn out to remember Rivers at Temple Emanu-El on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. In the hours before the service began, barricades lined several blocks, and a crowd of fans and media stood watch across the street. Rivers was one of Stern's favorite guests, he had previously said; Rivers had endorsed Forbes during his failed 1996 presidential run.

The event will be more muted than she had hoped. The comedian 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 Beyonce's."

Rivers, who died Thursday at 81, 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, actress, fashion critic, and she sold a line of jewelry.

The cause of death is being investigated. Rivers was hospitalized on Aug. 28 after she went into cardiac arrest during 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.

In her book, Rivers joked that dying of natural causes was boring. "It's the grand finale, act three, the eleven o'clock number — make it count. If you're going to die, die interesting! Is there anything worse than a boring death? I think not."

Her 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.