Joan Rivers dead at age 81

The television personality will be remembered for her acerbic wit and groundbreaking work as a female comedian.
By Annie Martin  |  Updated Sept. 4, 2014 at 3:27 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Joan Rivers has died at age 81.

The legendary comedian died Thursday at 1:17 p.m. ET. Rivers was hospitalized after she went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing during a routine surgery August 28, and was put into a medically-induced coma upon her arrival to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Her condition failed to improve, and daughter Melissa Rivers eventually chose to take her off life support.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother Joan Rivers," Melissa said in a statement. "She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided my mother."

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

Rivers was born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1933, and began her career on stage in the 1950s after graduating with honors from Barnard College. She started performing in comedy clubs and made her way onto the small screen in the 1960s, appearing on programs such as Candid Camera and The Ed Sullivan Show. Rivers began her longtime collaboration with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1965, but the friendship came to an end when she received her own, rival talk show, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, in 1986.

Rivers authored 12 books and maintained the Joan Rivers Classics Collection, a best-selling fashion line sold on QVC. The Emmy winner most recently starred with daughter Melissa Rivers on WE reality series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?, and served as a co-host on Fashion Police. The E! program saw her apply her famously acerbic wit to celebrity fashion choices, and her direct and irreverent sense of humor stirred up controversy on more than one occasion.

Rivers will be remembered as a groundbreaking female comedian and an iconic television personality. She is survived by her daughter, Melissa, and her grandson, Cooper Endicott. Many celebrities have taken to social media to express their admiration and condolences for the star.

"My friend Joan Rivers has passed away," Whoopi Goldberg tweeted. "Once again to quote Billy Crystal... There are no words. Bon Voyage Joan."

"Unapologetically offensive, kind, tough, complicated, irrepressible, supremely energetic...and above all, bloody funny," Piers Morgan wrote. "RIP Joan Rivers."

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