Joan Rivers dies at age 81
Joan Rivers, the pioneering comedian known for her acerbic wit, classic put-downs and for asking "Can we talk?," died on Thursday at the age of 81 in a New York hospital a week after her heart stopped during an outpatient medical procedure.
Melissa Rivers, the comedian's only child, said her mother died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends, at 1:17 p.m. EDT (1717 GMT).
"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," Melissa Rivers added in a statement.
Rivers was the second leading American comedian to die in less than a month. Groundbreaking comedy star and actor Robin Williams, 63, hanged himself on Aug. 13 in California.
Fellow comedians, friends and fans took to Twitter to express their grief and sadness, and to praise Rivers.
"Joan Rivers will always be a pioneer. She paved the way for a lot of comedians," tweeted comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. "I’m very sad she’s gone."
Brooklyn-born Rivers, who once described herself as "the plastic surgery poster girl" and often joked about her numerous cosmetic enhancements, suffered cardiac arrest during a procedure on her vocal cords at a Manhattan clinic on Aug. 28. She was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she was put on life support.
The clinic is under scrutiny from health officials, a spokeswoman for New York's state health department said on Thursday.
A telephone message seeking comment from the clinic was not immediately returned.
Earlier this week, a representative for Rivers said media reports that her family was planning to sue the clinic were not true.
Among others praising and remembering Rivers on Thursday was reality star Sharon Osbourne, who said the comedian was a true legend and an amazing woman who opened up the comedy arena for women.
Said comedian Sarah Silverman, "My heart is torn in half. She wasn't done."
Property mogul Donald Trump, who hosted the reality TV competition show "The Apprentice," which Rivers won in 2009, described her as "an amazing woman and a great friend."
"Her energy and talent were boundless. She will be greatly missed," he added on Twitter.
Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted, "We lost a great one in @Joan-Rivers - she was funny all the way to the end."
Rivers had a lengthy career that included stand-up comedy, television, writing and an Emmy Award-winning daytime talk show, "The Joan Rivers Show." But she originally wanted to be an actress.
She got into comedy after writing sketches for television's "The Ed Sullivan Show." A career in stand-up followed. She later worked as a regular guest host for Johnny Carson on NBC's "The Tonight Show."
When she started her own late-night talk show in 1986, on the rival Fox network, it caused a falling-out with Carson that lasted until he died in 2005. Rivers' show was canceled after seven months.
Rivers and her daughter starred in the reality TV show "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?", with Rivers living with her grown child.
Most recently Rivers was the host of cable television channel E!'s "Fashion Police," commenting on the unfortunate red carpet choices of Hollywood celebrities.
(Additonal reporting by Eric Kelsey and Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)