Entertainment

Joan Rivers, Comedy Legend, Dies At 81

Kaitlan Collins
Entertainment Reporter

Joan Rivers, the iconic 81-year-old E! News talk show host known for her raspy voice and biting humor, died Thursday. She was 81.

Rivers was undergoing an routine endoscopic throat procedure last Thursday at a clinic when she quit breathing and went into cardiac arrest. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where she was placed in its Intensive Care Unit and on life support. Rivers was then moved to a private room Wednesday. Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, issued a written statement about her death. (RELATED: Joan Rivers Quits Breathing, Rushed To Hospital)

“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.”

Rivers, who had been named “the funniest woman alive,” had not retired. She was recently on the red carpet for the MTV VMA Awards and Emmys in August.

Rivers, born in Brooklyn and raised in upper-class New York, got her start in 1956 on “The Tonight Show: Starring Johnny Carson.” She released a comedy album shortly after, and became the first permanent guest host on Carson’s show. He later banned Rivers from the show, and never talked to her again, after Fox offered Rivers a show opposite the show. She was never a guest again until Jimmy Fallon asked her on in 2014.

Rivers and her wit went on to live in Los Angeles and headline shows at Carnegie Hall, host a daytime talk show, sell jewelry for QVC, author 12 books, and cover countless awards shows. She eventually became the highest-paid entertainer.

The night before Rivers’ surgery, she joked about dying during a show at Laurie Beechman Theatre.

“I’m 81–I could go at any moment.”

Never know for her political correctness, Rivers often faced backlash for her comments. She called President Obama “gay,” said Palestinians deserved to die, and stormed out of interviews.

Her daughter, who moved her to a private room and made the decision to take her off life support, said her mother died peacefully Thursday afternoon.