Comedy legend Joan Rivers died today, according to her daughter Melissa Rivers, who issued a statement. She was 81.
On August 28, Rivers had gone in for vocal cord surgery at a clinic in New York City, but went into cardiac arrest during the procedure, prompting her transport to Mount Sinai Hospital where she was put into a medically induced coma and on life support. Yesterday, she was taken off life support and moved out of ICU and into a private where she was reportedly being made comfortable. Her daughter says she was surrounded by family and friends when she passed away in the hospital early today.
The Brooklyn-born comedienne started out doing stand-up in comedy club’s in New York City’s Greenwich Village in the early 1960s before getting her big break in 1965 on The Tonight Show with then-new host Johnny Carson. From there, she went on to host her own talk show and was best known for her catchphrase “Can We Talk?”
Rivers undoubtedly was a pioneer in comedy, especially for women. Her long career has included feature films (she voiced the C-3PO-like golden droid Dot Matrix in the 1987 Mel Brooks Star Wars parody Spaceballs), television shows and TV hosting, reality TV (she had reality series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? with daughter Melissa since 2011), theater, forays into gossip, commentary on awards show Red Carpets, and fashion. For younger generations, she’s known as the most ballsiest fashion critic there is; on her E! television series Fashion Police she regularly either exalted or skewered celebrities for their fashion choices. In a 2012 episode of Joan & Melissa, the then-79-year-old Rivers was shown smoking for medical marijuana, to great comedic effect.
Considering the way she died, her passing is a great shock to all and she will definitely be missed in the entertainment community, although her massive contributions to comedy will leave a lasting impression. We’ll have a more in depth tribute to Rivers soon.
RIP Joan Rivers
June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014