Legendary comedian and television personality Joan Rivers died Thursday after being hospitalized over the past week. Rivers was rushed to the hospital after going into cardiac arrest while having a routine procedure done on her throat at a New York City medical clinic. Rivers had been in intensive care since being hospitalized. Her daughter Melissa announced that Joan died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and was surrounded by family and close friends.
“My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh,” Melissa Rivers said. “Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.”
Joan Rivers has been a comedic household name for half a century while burning up television programs and comedy clubs with her often cutting insults and sharp-tongued humor. Anybody and everything was fair game including mocking herself. She made a living out of poking fun at badly dressed celebrities on the red carpet of award shows and up until her death, was the host of Fashion Police on E!.
While often controversial, she distributed her insults on an equal opportunity basis. She was noted for being a strong ally for the LGBT community despite sometimes making offensive jokes in the process. In the end, it was all done for entertainment and laughs.
Rivers’ notable comedic style helped her break into a typically male-dominated profession during the 1960s and, over the years, she became a regular on the late-night talk show circuit. Her big break occurred in 1965 when she was invited on to The Tonight Show. “God, you’re funny. You’re going to be a star,” host Johnny Carson told her after the show. She later became a permanent guest host on his show and then hosted her own late-night show, albeit it was short-lived and only lasted one season.
Rivers never really slowed down over the years. Up until last week, Rivers maintained a busy schedule between hosting Fashion Police, doing live shows on stage weekly and promoting a new book. She was a relentlessly hard worker and truly mirrored what it meant to be an entertainer who had staying power. Rivers passed away while she was on top at age 81 and that is a credit to her. She has touched our culture in many different ways that you would ever expect a comedian to do. Everything from the way celebrities are seen at award shows to jewelry sales on television, Rivers left her imprint on it.
Rivers is survived by her daughter Melissa and her grandson, Cooper.