Joan Rivers has passed away at the age of 81. The comedian had been fighting for her life since she stopped breathing during a surgical procedure last week.
The one-of-a-kind star “passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends,” Joan’s only daughter, Melissa Rivers, said in a statement.
“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 reportedly died of cardiac arrest this afternoon.
She was admitted to New York’s Mt. Sinai hospital August 28 after she stopped breathing during a procedure on her vocal cords at a New York Clinic.
In the ensuing days, Rivers was placed in a medically-induced coma to assess her condition, then placed on and subsequently taken off life support.
The petite blonde firebrand won’t be remembered for the events of the past week, but for the pioneering confessional female comic persona she embodied.
Often lampooning her personal life (and others’), she brought a rare gravitas to gigs from the The Tonight Show to Fashion Police over more than five decades.
Joan had and did it all, from talk shows, Vegas engagements, and bestselling nonfiction books, to award shows, TV commentary and best of all, standup comedy.
Edgy and never afraid of being politically incorrect, she always stirred up controversy in what became an increasingly politically correct world since she started out.
Back in the ’60s, Rivers paved the way for comics of the female gender to be every bit as outrageous, outlandish and hilarious as men, with no qualms about it.
Her life was also marked by the tragedy, specifically her husband Edgar Rosenberg’s 1987 suicide, which was played out in the media for months.
Rivers and her daughter with Rosenberg starred in the reality/improv comedy show Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best? for WE TV and were very close.
Joan and Melissa Rivers have been fixtures on E! and other channels as hosts of awards ceremonies arrivals (the Oscars, Golden Globes, and others) since 1995.