Comedian and TV host Joan Rivers has died, her daughter has said. Rivers, 81, had been on life support in Mount Sinai Hospital since having a cardiac arrest in New York last week. In a statement, her daughter Melissa said she died surrounded by family and friends, and she thanked hospital staff for their "amazing care".
The comedian, best known for her lacerating wit, stopped breathing during a procedure on her vocal cords at an outpatient clinic last Thursday. "My mother's greatest joy in life was to make people laugh," said Melissa Rivers. "Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon."
The actress and stand-up comedian is well known for her legendary put-downs and has more recently turned her razor-sharp tongue on the red carpet's worst dressed celebrities, hosting the E! network's Fashion Police. Both Rivers and Melissa, her only child, have appeared together in reality TV show Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? She didn't just fire her barbs at others, however. She was always prepared to joke about herself, and in particular her plastic surgery.
In 2010, she tweeted a joke about her death, saying: With all the plastic surgery I've had I'm worried that when I die, God won't recognize me! Shortly after her death was announced, tributes poured in from the world of entertainment.
Comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg tweeted: "My friend Joan Rivers has passed away once again to quote Billy Crystal... There are no words. Bon Voyage Joan."
TV show host Ellen DeGeneres described Rivers as a pioneer, adding: "She paved the way for a lot of comedians. I'm very sad she's gone."
She was born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York, to a family of Jewish immigrants who had fled the Russian Revolution. Her big break came in 1965 when she appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and a long television career followed. Her first marriage lasted only six months but her second with Edgar Rosenberg spanned more than two decades until his suicide in 1987.