Joan Rivers, the brash, bold and unapologetic comedian who became the first woman to host a late-night talk show and made Hollywood red carpets a nightmare for badly dressed celebrities, died Thursday at the age of 81.
Rivers died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, surrounded by family and close friends. She was hospitalized August 28 after going into cardiac arrest following a routine procedure at a doctor’s office.
The comedian got her first break with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and became his regular replacement. Rivers moved on to become the first woman to host a late-night talk show with The Late Show on FOX. The show was cancelled after just seven months. Three months later her husband commited suicide.
Within two years, Rivers rebuilt her career and life. She appeared in more than two dozen films, recorded comedy albums, was nominated for a Grammy and over the years wrote a total of twelve books. She won NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice, hosted E!’s Fashion Police and coined the phrases “Who are you wearing?” on the red carpet and “Can we talk?” in her stand-up comedy routines.
In a statment, daughter Melissa spoke about her mother’s final wish, “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.”