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Joan Rivers

Legendary Comedienne

Dies at 81

9/4/2014 8:55 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Exclusive Details

Joan Rivers Dead
Joan Rivers -- who made the world laugh for over 50 years with her jokes, put-downs and one-liners -- has died in NYC ... a week after her heart suddenly stopped beating during vocal cord surgery.

She was 81.

Joan's daughter Melissa Rivers took her mom off life support so she could pass comfortably in a private room. 

The death has been reported to the NYC Medical Examiner's Office -- and officials tell TMZ the office will open an investigation to determine cause of death. 

Melissa just issued a statement saying, "It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers."

"She passed peacefully at 1:17 PM surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff of Mount Sinai hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother." 

0904-melissa-rivers-INF-02"Cooper and I have found ourselves humbled by the outpouring of love, support and prayers we have received from around the world. They have been heard and appreciated."

"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." 

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Rivers is widely credited for opening doors for countless female comediennes. She broke through in a big way during her appearances on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.

She also famously enraged Carson by accepting a gig to host a competing late night show on FOX. Carson never spoke to her again.

Joan Rivers Dead
Rivers was born in 1933 -- she worked as a writer and fashion consultant before entering show biz as a stand-up comic in the early '60s. She was famously self-deprecating ... often self-critical of her looks and her marriage to Edgar Rosenberg ... who committed suicide in 1987.  

Joan's late '80s FOX show tanked, which somewhat derailed her career. It was resurrected in a big way in 2010 in the wake of the documentary "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work."

She was universally adored by fellow comedians, including fellow legend Don Rickles, who once said about her ... "Joan is not only a very intelligent lady, but extremely masterful at comedy timing. Sharing the stage with her has always been a joy for me."

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Barbara Walters was asked about Joan last year, saying ... "I wouldn't dare to try to be funny about Joan Rivers because she is the smartest, best-informed and funniest woman I know."

Joan and her daughter Melissa began working as a team hosting various red carpet and fashion shows on E! and other networks, including "Fashion Police."

090414_joan_rivers_cnn_launchJoan's credits could fill a book ... including appearances in "The Muppets Take Manhattan," "The Carol Burnett Show," "Hollywood Squares," "Pee Wee's Playhouse," "Celebrity Apprentice," "Saturday Night Live" ... and on and on.

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1525 COMMENTS

No Avatar
76.

phil    

R.I.P. Joan you made so many laugh and were not afraid to say some really funny things even if they were crude and controversial. The world has lost a great person.

17 days ago
77.

Becky    

So sorry for their loss. We lost another legend! Give them hell in heaven and thanks for all the laughs Joan we'll miss you!

17 days ago
78.

Tenchbunch1    

Many prayers to Mellisa and family. It is hard to lose a parent. RIP Joam🙏😢😘

17 days ago
79.

Truth    

JOAN SAID IF SHE DIES SHE WANTS TO BE CREMATED AND MELISSA IS TO SELL EVERYTHING. TAKE WHAT SHE WANTS AND DUMP THE REST. SAD. RIP!! #TRUTH!!

17 days ago
80.

The Maharincess of Franistan    

My love forever Miss Joan. Can't wait to catch your midnight set up there.

17 days ago
81.

Stacy    

😑

17 days ago
82.

Columbo    

That's gonna be one nasty corpse

17 days ago
83.

Wallybird    

RIP Joan, I remember your groundbreaking stuff with Johny all those years ago.

17 days ago
84.

blazeleherb    

For the haters who wished death upon her, may God have mercy on your soul! I hope karma doesn't do that to your family!

17 days ago
85.

Canadian    

Thanks to her physician(s). I hope that they win any lawsuit.

17 days ago
86.

Truth    

NICCCE!! SHE AND HER SISTER DIED 1 YR APART. FASHION POLICE IS CANCELLED. RIP. #TRUTH!!

17 days ago
87.

Thirstee    

Funny lady. Life sux!!! #everdaycounts

17 days ago
88.

eqlopper2nity    

This is truly sad, she seemed so full of life. Like her or not, she still is somebody's mother, grandmother, and friend.... So let's try to ease up on the rude remarks please!

17 days ago
89.

Dee    

RIP lady.

17 days ago
90.

Nonsense    

Was never a fan but that doesn't matter now. She had a family and friends and my condolences to them. Losing someone close is always a painful and sad time.

17 days ago
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