Joan Rivers dies aged 81

Joan Rivers dies aged 81

By Ben Dowell

Thursday 4 September 2014 at 08:05PM

Joan Rivers, the flamboyant and acerbic comedian, has died.

The stand-up, author and onetime host of the Tonight Show died after going into cardiac arrest on Wednesday following a medical procedure on her vocal cords at a New York Clinic.

He daughter Melissa said in a statement: “She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends.

“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.”

Known for the catchphrase “Can we talk?” she was an outspoken and popular personality who frequently poked fun at herself – whether it was her topsy-turvy love life or her many bouts of plastic surgery.

She also repeatedly stirred up controversy, recently speaking out about the situation in Gaza early last month.

Born Joan Molinsky in Brooklyn, she was already a veteran of the New York comedy scene when her career was kickstarted by her many appearances on The Tonight Show in the 1970s and 1980s. This resulted in her being named permanent replacement host for Johnny Carson in 1983, a job which she did for three years to widespread acclaim.

She also recorded a number of comedy albums such as Joan Rivers Presents Mr. Phyllis and Other Funny Stories and wrote a number of books.

The included Having a Baby Can Be a Scream which sold more than 1.5 million copies in hardback alone and the autobiographies Enter Talking, Still Talking, Bouncing Back and Don’t Count the Candles: Just Keep the Fire Lit!

Rivers had been hosting an online weekly talk show called In Bed with Joan and had just filmed her special award show episode of Fashion Police before she became ill. She had also finished the fourth series of the reality show in which she starred with her daughter: Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best.

Stars have rushed to social media to pay tribute to the star. 

Actress and comedian Kathy Griffin wrote: “A legend, a friend, a mentor, an icon, and wildly funny. One of a kind. RIP”.

Whoopi Goldberg tweeted: “My friend Joan Rivers has passed away once again to quote Billy Crystal... There are no words. Bon Voyage Joan”.

As well as her daughter she is survived by her grandson, Cooper. 

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