Breaking News: Legendary Comedian Joan Rivers Dies at 81
We are sad to report the news that Joan Rivers died at 1:17pm this afternoon, at 81 years old. Rivers was undergoing a procedure on her vocal cords last Thursday, during which she stopped breathing. She was quickly rushed to Mount Sinai hospital in New York City, where she was admitted in critical condition, and later upgraded to stable as she was put into a medically induced coma and put on life support.
A funeral for Rivers has been planned for Sunday at Temple Emanu-El. In a statement, her daughter Melissa shares that "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."
Earlier this week, she was moved from the ICU to a private room, where she was kept comfortable and surrounded by family and loved ones, who had been hoping for a miracle. Continued updates noted that she would be touched by the outpouring of support and kept comfortable. She never recovered, and passed away earlier today.
It was revealed this morning that the New York State health department is investigating the 'whole matter' as well.
Rivers was long a fixture on the New York scene, with numerous standup appearances, benefit appearances, and a long association with the theatrical community. She was a constant presence at opening nights and special events, and never hesitated to express her love for theatre and live entertainment.
Rivers first made the rounds in New York during the 1950s, appearing in a few off-off Broadway plays (including one where she played a lesbian opposite an equally unknown Barbra Streisand), and as she often put it 'surviving sleazy agents, tawdry clubs, and hostile audiences.' A 1965 booking on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" led to her hosting one of the first syndicated talk shows on daytime TV, "That Show with Joan Rivers" in 1968.
In the 1970s Joan wrote the TV-movie The Girl Most Likely To (starring Stockard Channing) and then wrote and directed her first feature film Rabbit Test, casting Billy Crystal in the lead. In 1983 Joan became the permanent guest host on "The Tonight Show." Later, she headlined in Las Vegas, sold out Carnegie Hall, produced a Grammy nominated comedy album, and wrote two best-selling books. In 1989 the Tribune Corporation launched Joan in her own syndicated daytime talk show.
She won an Emmy and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1994 she wrote and starred on Broadway in Sally Marr and Her Escorts, for which she received a Best Actress Tony nomination. Since then, Joan has written five more best-selling books, maintains her own jewelry line on QVC, served as host of the series "How'd You Get So Rich?" on TVLand, and filmed a special for Bravo. In 2009, she was the winner of Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice". In 2010, she returned to The Fashion Police show on E! and was featured on the big screen in the acclaimed Sundance Award-winning documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. The documentary also followed the creation and development of a solo show, first titled as Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress. That show opened at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, before moving to Edinburgh Festival Fringe, followed by a run at the Leicester Square Theatre in 2008.
In 2011, she launched the reality TV series Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? on Oxygen, which is now in its 4th season. Another show launched on YouTube in 2013, called 'In Bed with Joan' where a different guest joins her in her bedroom to sound off on the issues of the day.
Her Broadway credits include Fun City, Broadway Bound and Sally Marr...and her escorts, for which she received a Drama Desk Nomination as Outstanding Actress in a Play and a Tony Nomination for Best Actress in a Play.