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51 September 4th, 2014 Joan Rivers Dies At Age 81

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Today, what we had hoped would not come to pass, has sadly happened.  Joan Rivers has died at age 81.

In a written statement this afternoon from her daughter, Melissa Rivers, the media and fans around the world learned the heartbreaking news, “It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers.  She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. 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.”

Melissa Rivers added that she and her son, Cooper, who is Joan Rivers’ grandson, “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.”

Rivers, who co-hosted the popular E! TV show “Fashion Police,” had been hard at work recently, critiquing the outfits worn by stars at the MTV Video Music Awards and the Primetime Emmys with her usual flair.  On August 28th, she was in New York City having throat surgery when she suffered cardiac arrest.  She was rushed to the hospital, where she arrived unconscious and doctors kept her sedated. On September 2nd her daughter, Melissa Rivers, revealed that she had been placed on life support.

Joan’s career was remarkable, and she even won her one and only Daytime Emmy in 1990 as host of her own daytime talk show, The Joan Rivers Show.  Watch the winning moment when a trio of former All My Children favorites announce Joan as the winner and her acceptance speech after the jump! Then share your thoughts on the passing of the funny lady of them all, the incomparable Joan Rivers.

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  1. A Baptiste says:

    Too sad for words, like a family member and kept me company many a sometimes wistful Friday night on Fashion Police, dare I say a guilty pleasure. It will be hard to laugh again, but she will “orchestrate” it for us from above. Joan Rivers, the woman and the concept is forever.

    Reply

  2. mmc says:

    This made me cry….She had many struggles in her life & never forgot that laughter was the best medicine ….I will miss this funny lady who could sometimes say the most outrageous things…even about herself….She was one in a million….She’ll live on forever in our hearts….RIP dear Joan….

    Reply

  3. Joe says:

    I remember this….made me cry then and it does now. I will miss you Joan. <3

    Reply

  4. Rapids says:

    Rest in peace funny lady. She had a terrific life, great daughter and grandson and I hope she knew how much she was loved.

    Reply

  5. DaleReshotnik says:

    I’m so saddened by the death of Joan Rivers!!! She was an AMAZING WOMAN & A GREAT COMEDIENNE!!!! RIP JOAN U WILL B GREATLY MISSED!!!! :’(:’(:’(:’(:’(

    Reply

  6. Fanny says:

    Joan Rivers was the Grande Dame of comedy, she will be sorely missed.

    Reply

  7. Adam says:

    Very sad news, I loved Joan Rivers so much, she was a funny lady. I loved watching Joan on fashion police. Rip dear lady. I will miss Joan very much.

    Reply

  8. mike says:

    Tough lady, a real trailblazer. You either loved her or hated her but you have to admit she was never phony. I’m sure she would have had some great lines about her sudden demise, she will be missed.

    Reply

  9. robert says:

    so sad. Joan was one of the best

    Reply

  10. Mary SF says:

    I may not have always agreed with her humor, but I admired the lady greatly– she made a name of herself in a business when few or any females were allowed to trod. She handled personal tragedies with grace and that wit could cut you where you stood. And normally when we hear of someone that age passing on, we say they led a full rich life, and that’s true she did, but I suspect she could have gone on working for years to come. My prayers go out to all who knew and loved her.

    Reply

  11. Mark says:

    She was a riot and brightened up the day for me whatever I saw her in I shall miss her very much!

    Reply

  12. JustSaying says:

    Casey Kasem, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers.

    Such a sad year.

    Peace be with all of you.

    Reply

  13. jimh(leave it to beaver) says:

    Another great loss…i wasnt a fan of hers back in the 60s but grew to like her in later years…sad!!!

    Reply

  14. kalamaty says:

    God speed, Joan. Thank you for an incredible career and for all of the laughter you gave each of us. You will be missed greatly!

    Reply

  15. Daisy Day says:

    What an incredible person Joan was. She is in that great comedy club up in the clouds. RIP

    Reply

  16. k/kay says:

    She paved the way for female comedians!

    Reply

  17. jaybird369 says:

    NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!! It can’t be!!!!! Joan Rivers is now G-O-N-E!!!!! More and more, life can be so CRUEL!!!!! As a longtime fan of hers, I always thought that Joan would live FOREVER!!!!! My heart and all is BEYOND SADDENED by the news of Joan’s death. Joan was my ALL-TIME FAVORITE comedienne!!!!! As far as I’m concerned, Joan VERY BRILLIANTLY paved the way (or whatever) for other comediennes. BTW, my other 2 favorites are Lisa Lampanelli and Wendy Liebman. Yes.

    Thank you, Joan…thank you for giving us all YEAR AFTER YEAR of TRULY LOL comedy. And, most of all…Joan, thank you for being VERY UNAPOLOGETIC when it came to making other people laugh (myself included). Good-bye Joan. Don’t forget to make other people LOL in Heaven. Joan…we’ll NEVER forget ya!!!!!!

    XOXOXOXOXO

    Rest In Peace, Joan.

    Amen.

    Reply

  18. Elite Advisors says:

    Regardless of whether you liked her humor or perhaps did not care for it, she was a pioneer for women in the industry. I admire a person, at her age, 81 would keep up such a fast pace! She loved her work obviously…. and like all of us as we get older, strived to find a place in a new modern world and remain relevant in todays youthful society.

    She had her fill of heartbreak and pain in her personal life and I am so happy she and her daughter once again became close. I cannot imagine Joan would have wanted to survive living a life any less fulfilling as she lived it…such a hard heartbreaking decision for her daughter…

    Rest in Peace and Thank you for the laughs over the years.

    Reply

  19. Elite Advisors says:

    On another note, one of her funniest jokes I have heard her tell about all the plastic surgery experiences was ” when I die they are going to donate my body to Tupperware from all the surgeries I have had!”

    May that may be her opener in Heaven…. she and Robin Williams are having fun already.

    Reply

  20. Sedrick says:

    Will never forget this heartwrenching speech. Rest in peace Joan.

    Reply

  21. Ces says:

    RIP Joan. Sad ending for her; she had so much left in her still. very sad news.

    Reply

  22. Jared says:

    :( America has lost a comedic icon. Now Heaven is filled with laughter. We will rejoin you and enjoy your unparalleled talents in Heaven. Rest in peace, and God bless you and your family.

    Reply

  23. CeeCee says:

    May God keep your soul, Joan. I never missed an episode of FASHION POLICE, , waiting with bated breath what hilarity was going to come out of your mouth….I did not know you, Joan, but you will always remain a friend in spirit within my heart.
    My condolences to Melissa and Cooper….your oh-so-loved mother/grandmother will always be your guardian angel…PEACE.

    Reply

  24. rebecca1 says:

    I’m truly in shock…and very sad. And, to be honest, I didn’t even like much of her humor in the last few years. But she was a legend…she’s a part of my history, and like all “famous” people we don’t know personally, we feel like we do. When one’s own life is in chaos, when one loses people close to their heart…you still feel that those people we don’t know…yet somehow do…will always be there. And then they too…in a flash…are gone. Sigh…the human condition.

    I still feel that this was a case of something gone awry in the facility where she had the procedure. Perhaps a doctor or nurse administered the anesthesia instead of an anesthesiologist…perhaps once she stopped breathing they didn’t respond quick enough…just something is off. She seemed too healthy, vibrant, full of life. Unless they reveal she had some health issue even she wasn’t aware of, I think something went wrong. And that makes it all the more tragic; had she not gone for this exploratory test she’d still be here…

    Horrible.

    Reply

  25. Gerry says:

    I loved her morning talk show. While she’s most famous for the jokes she cracks about herself and other celebrities, I was moved by the empathy she showed for her guests, especially those facing real challenges.

    Reply

  26. Rodd says:

    I remember when she played some sort of PR maven for Grant Harrison on ANOTHER WORLD. Funny stuff. Good memories.

    Reply

  27. aria says:

    you always made me laugh Joan, and for that i thank you, my condolence to Melissa, your mother was one of a kind.

    Reply

  28. harry says:

    Beautifully written, Michael Fairman. I am sorry for the loss of your dear friend, Joan.

    I think for the rest of the month we should all say,”Oh Grow up!” when agitated or, “Can we talk?” when prefacing a gossipy subject.

    Reply

  29. Lew S. says:

    She was hilarious! I will miss her. My thoughts are with her family and friends.

    Reply

  30. wolfsmistress says:

    I’m probably one of the few on here who remembers seeing Joan Rivers come up alongside the likes of Phyllis Diller and Totie Fields on TV in the very early ’60s when women were VERY rarely seen in comedy roles (especially stand-up). These ladies helped blaze many trails for the women of today, and did it without foul language. Innuendo and a lot of “wink-wink” was the way to go, never a bad word. Nowadays you can curse on normal TV and no one thinks anything of it, but boy, the days of censors and what they did to the likes of Lennie Bruce and others who said “The Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television” before it was only seven…whoa!

    Ms Rivers and her daughter’s antics on Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? was a show I watched faithfully (nuts, huh?), even though I wasn’t a big fan the first season. But I got hooked because it was like watching family, and I honestly CARED what happened to that crazy woman who ripped people apart for a living on E! with her daughter and friends.

    I was sitting in my doctor’s office when I got TVGuide Michael Logan’s tweet that she’d passed. I moaned out loud and my doctor asked what had happened. When I said that Joan Rivers had passed on, she and her assistant were also very saddened, as were the ladies in the office.

    I never knew how much Ms Rivers touched people’s lives until I said she was gone, then everyone in that office started talking about it and was so sad. What a lovely gesture of caring, and a tribute to the knowledge of how many she touched just in my circle. It warmed my heart to know that St. Peter would be going, “See, Joan, there are millions who are missing you already. You were so, so, SO loved, dear lady…”
    wolfy

    Reply

    harry replied

    Thank you, Wolfmistress. I enjoyed reading your comment very much.

    Reply

  31. Shay says:

    What sad, sad news….It’s truly incomprehensible that such a “larger than life” legend is now forever gone. Having grown up with Joan’s omnipresent, spot-on humor, it’s impossible for me to imagine a world without her ferociously funny force of nature in it, daring to say the things that most of us could only think….and keep to ourselves!!! Already the glaring absence of this delicious diva of derision and designer duds has made our foreseeable future a demonstrably less felicitous and fashionable place. However, the collective loss is but a mere fraction to that of Joan’s darling daughter (and grandson)…from one “only” to another, my heart especially goes out to Melissa since I know what it means to have a singularly adored and adoring mother. Nothing can compare, so her grief must be unbearable, although she admirably comported herself throughout this entire ordeal. Hopefully the immense public expressions of love and affection for her trailblazing dynamo of a maternal figure will continue to provide her comfort in the days ahead. As for the dear lady herself, rest well…may you and your beloved Edgar (and Spike!) be happily together again….

    Reply

    harry replied

    Beautifully put, Shay.
    I always thought of Edgar as Phyllis Diller’s “Fang.” I loved her too.

    Reply

    Shay replied

    Thank you, Harry! Not so much a fan of Phyllis, though. Although she was another pioneer comedienne extraordinaire and a fine woman, her witch-like cackling and bizarre ensembles put me off (actually gave me nightmares….) as a tot who was allowed to nod off to the sights and sounds of “The Tonight Show!” (And sometimes Dick Cavett or Joey Bishop, too….) Needless to say, I developed some rather sophisticated viewing habits far earlier than those in my comparative peer group, precocious child that I was.

  32. Timmm says:

    Maura West, I want a percentage of your salary! I am putting this out there for all to read, YOU would make a terrific Joan Rivers in a movie about her life. I couldnt stop thinking about you as I watched the tributes roll in on Ms. Rivers.

    Reply

    rebecca1 replied

    I think I saw a flash of “Ava” as well on one of the montages…but I actually think Sarah Silverman would be perfect to play Joan if they ever did a movie. If you look at early clips of Joan there is a certain facial likeness…

    Reply

    Timmm replied

    You are right, Sarah does have the early look and could transform herself to look older and go blonde. You know there will a Lifetime movie in like two months!

    rebecca1 replied

    Ya; I think Sarah would be great…wouldn’t be surprised if they went with Kathy Griffin…she has the rasp!

    Shay replied

    While Silverman may possess a slight passing resemblance to “Miss Rivers,” it is a purely physical one. That revolting guttersnipe could never hope to capture the brilliance, talent or incredible life force that was “Joan,” and the same goes for others in the current crowd of crass comedic vulgarians (i.e. Griffin and Chelsea Handler, to name but a few….) who aren’t even worthy to shine the late self-deprecating diva’s designer chaussures. In spite of Joan’s well-publicized, wildly wicked wit and outrageously risqué routines, in her private life she was a highly intelligent, extremely refined and elegant woman with an exquisite sense of style and taste, not to mention, impeccable etiquette, something with which none of these other “ladies” (and I use that term VERY loosely) would seem to be familiar, based upon their own utterings and writings. While I was mostly aware of much of Rivers’ “life story,” even I was further enchanted by some of the really precious, impressive tidbits that have come out about her in the past few days…(Peggy Noonan’s WSJ piece was a personal favorite….) and so to suggest that any of these contemporary potty-mouthed misses (for whom she bravely blazed the trail they followed…..) could portray her is patently absurd. A real actress of immense range and capabilities will be necessary to encapsulate all the nuances that comprised this remarkable, irrepressible legend, although at this point, I find it not just a little bit ghoulish and distasteful to be discussing casting possibilities before the wonderful woman herself is even properly eulogized, buried and mourned.

    rebecca1 replied

    Well, Shay…she’s been mourned, eulogized and cremated. Can we have your permission to discuss it now? As for Kathy and Sarah…Joan didn’t share your opinion of the two ladies. She was very close to both of them; she even took Kathy with her to a gala held by the Royal Family in England.

    I doubt she would be as incensed as you seem to be. Fact, she might possibly have been quite thrilled with either choice, should, or should I say when…a movie on her life is made.

    rebecca1 replied

    And by the way Shay…you might want to google In Bed With Joan…Sarah was her guest and it was a fun, warm interview…after which Joan kisses Sarah’s hand and says she loves her.

    Just sayin’.

    Shay replied

    @rebecca1….I don’t dispute that Joan was both a gracious, charming hostess and warm, loving woman to many, many different types of people, particularly those of the generations that followed in her formidable footsteps…..she had a really eclectic collection of friends and associates, as witnessed by her funeral guest list. All I was saying is that there was so much more to this fascinating, cultured icon than the bold, bawdy stagecraft she presented to the world…for example, she graduated college Phi Beta Kappa, had a career in fashion prior to her groundbreaking foray into comedy and became a prolific writer and skillful businesswoman-designer after that. She led a graceful, classy existence and was simply so much more than just her public persona, and as such, it would require someone truly tasteful, stylish, brilliant and versatile to successfully portray her in any tribute that could seriously do her memory justice. I simply cannot envision either of those crude contemporary examples named as being able to accomplish that feat. Furthermore, should such a project honoring this impressive, sparkling lady ever be attempted, it would hopefully be with the blessing and guidance of her daughter and grandson, so keeping that in mind, I would hardly think that a clearly devastated Melissa and Cooper would be up for discussion of this matter any time in the near future. I was simply suggesting that allowing them some proper time and space to grieve would be the respectful and dignified thing to do.

    rebecca1 replied

    Shay…once again we’ll have to agree to disagree. Joan Rivers was a legend. Yes. She was also crude and a “potty mouth”…using your term regarding the other two comediennes I mentioned. Have you looked into their backgrounds to see if they’re educated? Do you assume that they’re not educated, refined…that they don’t write…on and on. I think it’s presumptuous and pretentious of you. Furthermore, taking Kathy to a gala presented by the Royal Family would indicate to me Joan had the highest regard for her…and in theinterview I watched (online) with Sarah…same thing.

    There have been bio movies made of Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, John Lennon, Martin Luther King…on and on and on. I don’t think a casting director looks for the qualifications you deem necessary to play a role…they need to act. Usually, there’s some resemblance if the casting dept gets lucky. I think either Kathy or Sarah would be great in the role…but they might be too expensive. Who knows…Honestly? To me, not a big deal.

    As for the timing of the discussion…Joan Rivers was the first one to crack jokes or discuss events regarding other people’s demise, including her own husband’s.

    More important in my mind is to find out exactly what happened to cause JR’s death. I just get the sense that it could have been avoided…and should be fully investigated.

    rebecca1 replied

    And yet again another thought. Of alllllllll the people Melissa could have chosen, she chose the King of shock, crude, vulgar and actually compassionate and wonderful Howard Stern to do the eulogy. I think that says it all…

    As for the timing of the discussion, I sincerely doubt Melissa Rivers will be reading these comments…LOL. I feel perfectly at peace with myself for responding to Timmm’s post.

    Shay replied

    Well, we can at least concur that Joan’s was a senseless and perhaps, avoidable demise, rebecca1!!!! Even now that the initial shock is over, I am still truly saddened over the loss of this great comedic legend. I am not reluctant to admit it really gave me considerable pause….and I’m not usually one to mourn celebs or notables. The public deaths that have resonated with me are quite few and far between….I recall feeling so bad when Farrah Fawcett passed away after her courageous fight against cancer and was extremely tearful at Ronald Reagan’s demise following his tragic battle with Alzheimer’s, but in general, not so much. Since we last traded thoughts, I have continued to read much about Joan’s private side from those who knew her best….not necessarily the rich and famous, but the close and personal, and there have been some extremely interesting and heartwarming tales of an elegant, gracious and profoundly generous lady. Just truly impressive stuff….so much there to admire, and that is why I stick by my original thoughts that it’s going to take a really remarkable, well-rounded and talented person to capture all those unique qualities that comprised this amazing individual….if that makes me sound pretentious or presumptuous to opine that neither of the suggested choices could best fit that criteria, then so be it. (We’ve certainly respectfully disagreed before and gotten past it! LOL…) While I have no positive thoughts in regard to either Silverman or Griffin, I’m particularly strident about Kathy…even though she may have experienced the immense pleasure of going to London to meet the Royals with that wonderful woman, there have been some extremely disturbing reports from very reliable sources that before Rivers was even pronounced deceased that Ms. Griffin was jockeying to replace her on Fashion Police….although of course, she has denied it. Yet those making the accusations are extremely close to Joan’s family and should know the veracity of these claims….if so, that is absolutely tacky and appalling. Also, I have read of Howard Stern’s supremely salty send-off, as well…quite frankly I wish I hadn’t, as it seemed so inappropriate in a house of worship, but whatever, it was intended for River’s invited audience, and maybe it should have stayed with them!!!! (Their business, not mine!) Then again, perhaps that situation best exemplifies the true dichotomy and alchemy of the lady herself….as one of her dear friends, Cindy Adams, commented after her death…(Joan was) “brassy in public, classy in private.” Thus, should a project ever come to fruition saluting this magnificent maven of fun and fashion, I can only hope that it will be one befitting of the irrepressible, irreplaceable icon….she deserves to be remembered for all the fantastic facets that made her so unforgettable….of that, I am sure we can see eye to eye on!!!! P.S. Sorry it took so long to reply to you….I didn’t forget, was just really busy. Also, I wasn’t personally criticizing your timing in the comments we were discussing…I was perhaps being overly sensitive to Melissa’s situation, as I well understand that unbreakable bond between an only child and their mother,,,it’s ironclad, and my heart just breaks for her. She looked so lost and alone during those services…even with her adorable son by her side!!! And though she obviously wasn’t going to read our posts, I was simply saying that with all the concerns she must be facing, the subject at hand would probably not be utmost in her mind at the moment! That’s all…..

    rebecca1 replied

    yep; was wondering what happened to you on this one!

    I don’t know that Kathy Griffin would do that. As most of these “rumorss” we may never know the truth. On the other hand…perhaps it will come out. If that were the case then of course she wouldn’t be up for the role…so it would be a moot point.

    You know my views…it’s all in the acting. As for who Joan would approve…again…neither one of us knew her. But if you can go by the seeming friendship…then I think both of the comics I cited probably would pass go with her.

    In terms of celebrity deaths…I’m usually effected if I liked the person (again, in so much as we “think” we know them). I was particularly saddened…and I mean very much so…by the passing of James Gandolfini (absolutely LOVED him in The Sopranos as well as several films he was in. Very versatile actor and extremely likable) and shocked and very sad over Robin Williams.

    As for Joan Rivers…for me it was more the suddenness of it…she was completely vibrant and of course, with the help of plastic surgery, was the epitome of a young 81. And of course the history, her name…just a staple in American entertainment. But if I’m being honest, Robin Williams comedy was more my thing. His comedic antics and quick thought process was brilliant. So sad…to be in such despair…(and that is why soaps are such a good escape! if only it was that easy…).

    Reply

    Shay replied

    rebecca1….In this particular case, it was not only the what but the how that was so very tragic…and the more that comes out about the situation, the worse it becomes. (Today’s latest just floored me….a selfie? Oh please, dear Lord, I hope that is not true. How much more undignified can this all become???) Nobody should have to leave this world under such deplorable conditions….especially when they could afford to pay for the best medical care possible, and ye tot still be subjected to such quackery and unprofessional conduct? As for all other conjecture, only time will tell. But I am sure if you cared to search for that particular rumor you could find it….I can say that it came from Page Six courtesy of Richard Johnson via Cindy Adams, and I cannot imagine she would make up something like that and publicize it under the circumstances….she must have had impeccable sources. If it is valid, then it is simply awful. As for James Gandolfini, believe it or not, I have never once seen an episode of the Sopranos….just not my cup of tea, but I really was not that shocked at his demise, because by his own admission he put his body through so much self-abuse…not that his passing wasn’t sad, particularly for his children, but it didn’t really surprise me. Robin Williams? Well, with as much comedic genius as that man possessed, it always seemed to me that he was on the brink of insanity, like so many other freakishly talented people. So while his ending was also terribly shocking, at least it was his through his own free will, even if that decision was clouded by illness….unlike Joan, who had much more life she wanted to live….she even said how much her daughter needed her because she was all she had….a “Mama Bear” to the very end!!!

  33. mgb357 says:

    she really was a comic genius, and just watching her clips the last day has made me laugh.. again and again

    she will be missed.

    Reply

  34. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    Isn’t that 2 AMC and a *Loving* favorite? I am perhaps wrong, but on the right that looks like Loving’s Susan Keith (who was on other soaps but not AMC, but she did meet James Kiberd,in the middle when he was on Loving and married him…)

    Reply

  35. Jim Nelson says:

    So sad that Joan Rivers is gone – so iconic was she, and never somehow ever
    became a “has been”. Was always relevant throughout the 60′s, 70′s, reached her peak in the 80′s but remained popular till her untimely passing yesterday. Still can’t believe it, to me, she was the funniest woman ever and had a comic delivery that has often been imitated but cannot ever be duplicated. I really liked Joan and her self-debacing humor and super sharp sarcastic wit. R.I.P. Joan ~

    Reply

  36. Margie Rose Dalton says:

    My heart goes out to Melissa. A world without her is darker place. Her humor was groundbreaking for all females. Any stand ups out there owe it to her.

    Reply

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