HomeActressJoan Cushing's Life and Legacy: Enduring the Loss of Her Husband, Paul...

Joan Cushing’s Life and Legacy: Enduring the Loss of Her Husband, Paul Buchbinder

Joan Cushing's whole world turned upside down after the demise of her husband, Paul, in 2010.

Joan Cushing, a well-known figure in the Washington theater community, passed away on May 21 at a care facility in Columbia, Maryland, at 77.

Her family confirmed her passing and noted that she had been battling Parkinson’s disease. However, before her demise, she lived an extraordinary life.


  • Despite Joan Cushing’s successful career, she endured significant tragedy when she lost her husband, Paul J. Buchbinder, more than a decade ago because of prostate cancer.
  • Paul J. Buchbinder graduated from Brown University and worked as a sales representative at Wall Goldfinger, a furniture company.
  • Joan is survived by her three sons: Ben Buchbinder, Patrick Lavelle, and Christopher Buchbinder.

Joan initially worked as a schoolteacher before starting an entertainment career at piano bars across Washington, DC.

She became well-known for creating Mrs. Foggybottom, a character she developed to entertain bar patrons with a mix of show tunes and popular songs.

Unfortunately, even after having a remarkable career, Joan previously endured a significant tragedy when she lost her husband, Paul J. Buchbinder, more than a decade ago.

Joan Cushing’s Husband Paul Buchbinder: Pancreatic Cancer Ended Their 25-Year Marriage

Joan Cushing was married to Paul J. Buchbinder, a sales representative at Wall Goldfinger, a furniture company.

Buchbinder graduated from Brown University and was doing well in his professional and personal life with Joan and their children.

While everything seemed well before, their life took a downturn in 2010 when Joan’s husband, Paul, received devastating news that a tumor was found in his pancreas.

After further examination by the doctor, Paul was diagnosed with locally advanced pancreatic cancer.

Cushing mentioned that after they learned about Paul’s illness, she dropped everything to take care of him.

Unfortunately, their marriage lasted more than two decades until Paul passed away on November 10, just four months after being diagnosed with cancer.

Joan Cushing also wrote a song about her husband’s chemo nurse. (Source: Gurman Agency)

In a 2011 interview with The Washington Post, Joan mentioned how she struggled immensely after her husband’s passing, saying

My whole world just turned upside down. I’ve had a really hard time, but doing these projects is saving me— keeps me going.

Joan Cushing

Reflecting on those months, Joan described them as the most difficult, heart-wrenching, yet profoundly loving time of their twenty-five-year marriage.

However, following that incident, working on her musical projects became a source of healing for her.

Joan is survived by her three sons: Ben, Patrick, and Christopher. Her son Ben Buchbinder is a musician in New Orleans, performing in nightclubs, similar to Joan’s early days as a performer.

Christopher Buchbinder is Joan’s stepson from Mill Valley, California, while Patrick Lavelle is her son from a previous relationship in Lafitte, Louisiana.

Additional Information

  • Joan Cushing dedicated a song to Ella Mae Shupe, her husband’s chemotherapy nurse at Johns Hopkins, where he was in a clinical trial.
  • Cushing has adapted nine popular children’s books into musicals, performed in over 300 productions, and embarked on three national tours.
  • In addition to her stage performances, Ms. Cushing wrote a satirical column that was featured in the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call and the Georgetowner newspaper.
Deepti Bhatta
Deepti Bhatta
Meet Deepti Bhatta, a passionate writer and content editor who brings a fresh perspective to The Departure Film. With her keen interest in the entertainment industry, Deepti crafts articles that inform, inspire, and entertain readers, keeping them engaged and coming back for more. In her spare time, she enjoys binge-watching movies and series, as well as traveling to new destinations.


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