Photo: REX USA/c.Showtime/Everett.
Legendary comic Joan Rivers has died in Manhattan at the age of 81, Variety confirmed.
Rivers was admitted to Mt. Sinai Hospital last Thursday, when she stopped breathing during a medical procedure on her vocal cords. It was revealed she was in a medically induced coma, and on Saturday, August 30, her family reported she was on life support.
Earlier, her daughter Melissa had thanked fans for their support, saying "My mother would be so touched by the tributes and prayers that we have received from around the world."
Read on about her life and accomplishments...
Photo: REX USA/Erik C. Pendzich
Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, she later graduated from Barnard College in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and anthropology. After taking a stage name on the advice of her then agent, Rivers frequently played comedy clubs in New York City's West Village in the early '60s and became a writer for Candid Camera, the first practical joke/hidden camera show.
Rivers is survived by her daughter Melissa and her grandson Cooper. Her second marriage to Melissa's father, producer Edgar Rosenberg, ended in 1987 when Rosenberg committed suicide. At the time Rivers told People, "I don't know why I am being tested this way, but I have to go on because of my daughter."
In 1983, Rivers won a Grammy for her album What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most? and became a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. She even took over as Carson's go-to guest host until leaving to host her own competing but short-lived late night show on the then-new Fox network. She was the first woman to ever have a late-night offering. (Carson would never speak to her again, and she would not return as a guest on The Tonight Show until Jimmy Fallon took over earlier this year).
Rivers later found success in The Joan Rivers Show, a talk show that she won a Daytime Emmy for in 1990. She published numerous best-selling books, including I Hate Everyone...Starting With Me (2012) and this year's Diary of a Mad Diva. Since the '90s, she's been using her trademark raspy voice and biting wit to poke fun at Hollywood as a fashion critic and red carpet staple on the E! network, most recently as the host of Fashion Police and on the reality show Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?
But, she never stopped doing standup, working tiny rooms and large casinos until her death. She even had an upcoming show with Sarah Silverman scheduled, and while the comedian was still in the hospital, Silverman tweeted "We have a gig in 2 weeks and I'm not doing it without you. You're being ridiculous." Rivers' dedication to the craft and influence on younger comics was highlighted in an episode of Louie, where her character tells Louis C.K.'s that standup is a "calling"and that you do it because you "love it more than anything else."
Long criticized for making jokes on taboo subjects, Rivers remained acerbic and prolific to the end. She played by her own rules, saying what she wanted when she wanted, and apologized for (almost) none of it. It was this self-deprecation, this honesty, this general over-the-topness that we loved and we will miss. She never took herself too seriously, and for that she is nothing short of heroine around these parts.
In a statement, Melissa Rivers poignantly remarked, "Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon."