Barbara Walters, Joan Rivers

Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images

Prior to her death Thursday, Joan Rivers made no secret of the fact that she disliked being called a pioneer. "I'm still in the trenches," the legendary comic once told a reporter. "I'm still breaking ground."

Regardless of whether she liked the label, she left behind quite a legacy. "We always talk about Barbara Walters being a pioneer and role model for young women, and there used to be a time when young women were not getting into broadcast journalism," The Late Show's David Letterman said. "Well, Barbara Walters changed all that, and I think the same can be said for show business and Joan Rivers."

Walters, who once considered Rivers a rival, honored the late comedienne in a no-holds-barred essay that she shared with The New York Daily News. "I can't remember a time when I didn't know Joan Rivers—as we had been friends for decades," the TV journalist wrote. "We met years ago at NBC and there may have even been a bit of competition between us in the beginning, but I loved being with her."

According to Walters, Rivers never "believed she was the star she wanted to be...but make no mistake—she was a star." She also called the 81-year-old a "trailblazer" who "paved the way for female comics."

Over the years, they bonded over their daughters. "Her greatest success in life, I think, is her daughter Melissa, who is a wonderful woman," Walters wrote. "There was a closeness and a sweetness between them. Joan was a great mother, and we liked to talk about our children, who are the same age."

Walters shared some "important" facts about Rivers, which "she would not be shy about me saying."

"She wasn't a great beauty and she didn't have great success with men. She had a disappointing marriage to a man who almost ruined her career and then, sadly, committed suicide," the former 20/20 anchor wrote. "Her stage act was very raunchy. She would make fun of herself. Make fun of her looks. Make fun of her body and she would put herself down in order to win an audience's approval. Frankly, she did almost anything for a laugh. Anything to get an applause. And boy did she make them roar."

Walters also wrote about their interviews together, as well as Rivers' home life.

"I think that Joan would have loved a huge, huge funeral. And she would have liked to have worked that crowd," Walters, 84, wrote in her NYDN essay. "No one loved life, laughter, and a good time more than Joan. We would have dinner and laugh and gossip and I always left the table smiling. She was a brassy, often outrageous, and hilarious performer who made millions laugh...I will miss her and her love of life."

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