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Joan Rivers, legendary comic, dies at age 81

Joan Rivers died Thursday at the age of 81, one week after going into cardiac arrest during a medical procedure.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Joan Rivers died Thursday at the age of 81, one week after going into cardiac arrest during a medical procedure.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers," her daughter, Melissa Rivers, said in a statement.

Melissa Rivers said her mother died at 1:17 p.m. ET "surrounded by family and close friends."

"My mother's greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon," Melissa Rivers said.

PHOTOS: Joan Rivers through the years


Joan Rivers was undergoing a medical procedure at Yorkville Endoscopy on Aug. 28 when she suddenly had to be rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital. The clinic is now being investigated by the New York State Health Department.

Known for telling it like it is, Rivers' brash brand of comedy shot her to the top of the comedy world beginning in the 1960s. She soon became a fixture as a guest on "The Tonight Show," appearing on the late night variety show close to 100 times.

Rivers also served as Johnny Carson's "permanent guest host" between 1983 and 1986.


The comedian was given her own late night gig on the Fox Network, "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers." Not only did the show fail, it also caused a rift between her and Carson that was never mended.

After her Fox show was canceled, her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, committed suicide.

But Rivers bounced back, later hosting a daytime show, becoming a fixture on QVC and receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Quitting was never an option.

"I love the work. I am very driven. I literally lie in bed sometimes and say, 'So what did I do today that will help the career?' Even on a Sunday," Rivers said. "What gives me joy though, is the performing."

The brutally honest comedian became a staple during awards seasons, giving her own brand of memorable red carpet fashion commentary. It later evolved into her hosting duties for the weekly recap show "Fashion Police" on E!.


"For decades Joan has made people laugh, shattered glass ceilings and revolutionized comedy. She was unapologetic and fiercely dedicated to entertaining all of us and has left an indelible mark on the people that worked with her and on her legions of fans," E! said in a statement. "She's been a much beloved member of the E! family for over 20 years and the world is less funny without her in it. Today our hearts are heavy knowing Joan will not be bounding through the doors."

The New York native remained a powerhouse in the comedy world with over a half century of show business under her belt. She looked back on her career in 2010 with the documentary, "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work."

"We lost a great one in (Joan Rivers)," Jimmy Kimmel said in a tweet. "She was funny all the way to the end."

PHOTOS: 2014 famous deaths


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