Comedian Joan Rivers dies at 81 - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Comedian Joan Rivers dies at 81

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In addition to her famous job as a professional gossip, Joan Rivers was also an Emmy Award winner and playwright. (Source: Wiki Commons/MGN Online) In addition to her famous job as a professional gossip, Joan Rivers was also an Emmy Award winner and playwright. (Source: Wiki Commons/MGN Online)
Joan Rivers, right, and daughter Melissa Rivers on the red carpet. (Source: POOL/CNN) Joan Rivers, right, and daughter Melissa Rivers on the red carpet. (Source: POOL/CNN)
Joan Rivers on 'Larry King Live' in 2010, talking about telling jokes. (Source: CNN) Joan Rivers on 'Larry King Live' in 2010, talking about telling jokes. (Source: CNN)

(RNN) - TV personality, host and comedian Joan Rivers died Thursday, marking the end of a career that spanned decades.

Her death comes after she stopped breathing during throat surgery Aug. 28 at a Manhattan clinic. She was placed in intensive care where doctors put her in a medically induced coma. She was moved to a private room on Wednesday to be made comfortable, daughter Melissa Rivers said on her website.

Melissa Rivers announced her death in a statement.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers," Melissa Rivers said in the statement. "She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends."

Joan Rivers was known for her biting comedic style, often aimed at other celebrities, and never shied away from sharing her controversial opinions.

"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 was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but “Rivers” was a stage name she adopted early in her career. The comedian was born Joan Alexandra Molinksy, a child of Russian Jewish immigrants. She had one older sister, Barbara, who died in 2013.

Joan Rivers was an actress, comedian, television host, writer and producer. She was the winner of a Daytime Emmy Award, nominated for several more, and was also nominated for both a Grammy Award and a Tony Award.

She was seen as a pioneer for women comedians, and fellow comedians reacted with sadness to her passing.

Joan Rivers' career began in the 1950s on stage, but she was vaulted into the public spotlight as a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1965.

The Tonight Show would make her a household name, and in 1983 Joan Rivers joined Carson as a permanent guest host. But uncertainty over the future of Carson continuing to host The Tonight Show and Rivers' own shortened contract offering from NBC led her to accept a job as the host for a rival late-night talk show, The Late Show on Fox.

The move ended up being devastating for Joan Rivers' personal life. Fox fired both Joan Rivers and her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, from the show in 1987 after Joan Rivers confronted Fox about firing Rosenberg as a producer. Later that year he committed suicide, which Joan Rivers blamed on Fox for humiliating him.

It also caused a rift between Joan Rivers and Carson, a long-time mentor and friend, which never healed. Joan Rivers revealed in 2005 that the two had never spoken again after the incident.

However, The Late Show debacle did not end Joan Rivers' career. She would continue on, spending almost her entire life in the spotlight.

Her next project was the daytime talk show called the Joan Rivers Show, which she won a Daytime Emmy award for in 1990.

Joan Rivers would also go on to become famous as a celebrity commenter and gossip extraordinaire. She co-hosted the E! pre-show for the Golden Globe Awards with daughter Melissa in 1994. They later hosted E!'s pre-show for the Academy Awards. In 1997, she hosted her own radio show on WOR in New York City.

She was nominated for a Tony Award for co-writing and starring in the play Sally Marr … and Her Escorts.

From the 1990s onward, Joan Rivers became a prolific guest star and a consummate talk show guest. Anyone who missed one of her appearances was guaranteed to catch her again soon.

Just some of her appearances included Biography, Hollywood Squares, The Joan Rivers Position, Nip/Tuck, How'd You Get So Rich, E! True Hollywood Story, The Apprentice, Fashion Police, Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?, Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition and more.

Those appearances didn't even include her talk show guest appearances. She even appeared again on The Tonight Show when Jimmy Fallon took over the role of host in 2014. She was also often seen on Howard Stern, The View and The Late Show with David Letterman.

In 2013, she launched another talk show, this time online through YouTube, called In Bed with Joan. Once again, celebrity guests and gossip were the name of the game.

Joan Rivers' career blurred the lines between private and public. She spent so much time focusing on celebrities that she, herself, became a hot topic of discussion. Joan Rivers was known for her multiple plastic surgeries and for making disparaging and insulting comments about both people and sensitive topics. That often had her apologizing or defending her stances.

She was also known for bringing her family into her public career. Her only child and daughter to Rosenberg, Melissa Warburg Rosenberg, later changed her name to Melissa Rivers and joined her mother as co-host on several of her shows. Joan Rivers also had one grandson, Edgar Cooper Endicott, who was featured along with his mother and grandmother on the series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?

The New York State Department of Health told CNN on Thursday that it is investigating the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic, where Joan Rivers underwent the procedure that left her unresponsive.

The comedienne's funeral will be held on Sunday. 

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