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Joan Rivers, Pioneering Comedian, Cultural Touchstone, Dies at 81

Suffered Cardiac, Respiratory Arrest at NYC Clinic

Joan Rivers died today (Sept. 4) at Mt. Sinai Hospital, her daughter Melissa announced. (Photo: Getty).

Joan Rivers died today (Sept. 4) at Mt. Sinai Hospital, her daughter Melissa announced. (Photo: Getty).

Joan Rivers, a pioneering female comedian, cultural touchstone and arbiter of taste and fashion, died today (Sept. 4) from cardiac arrest suffered during a routine medical procedure, from which she never regained consciousness. She was 81.

Rivers suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest Aug 28, during throat surgery on her vocal chords at a New York City clinic.

She was rushed to Mt. Sinai Hospital. Doctors did not know how long she had been without oxygen and placed her in a medical coma. But she was apparently clinically brain dead.

She was moved from the hospital’s intensive care unit to a private room yesterday (Sept. 3), a sign that she would likely not recover from her condition.

Daughter Melissa Rivers confirmed her mother’s death this afternoon after releasing a statement.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends,” she said.

Rivers laid bare her life in a 2010 documentary “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.”

The documentary bares all of the slings and arrows she’s suffered as a female comic trying to make it in a male dominated business during the 1960s.

But what makes the story compelling is that so many career highs — and she had many — are played against some pretty deep lows.

When Carson officially anointed Rivers as a “comer,” in 1965, she readily admits her life changed; the gigs got better; the paydays bigger and the overall respect from her peers (which every comedian wants and needs) got richer and richer.

When Fox approached her to host her first show on the then-fledgling network, with her-then husband Edgar Rosenberg producing, she accepted. But Carson found out about it before she could tell him and ask for his blessing.

When she did call, he hung up instantly. They never spoke again.

She went from a darling of the comedy king to an outcast. Then, her ersonal and financial life spiral downward after her Fox show failed after one year on the air.

She suffered an unimaginable tragedy with the the suicide of her husband in 1987.

But Rivers regained her career footing by working — any work she could find — even as many thought she was over the hill.

The biggest misconception about her is that she was all about her “Golden Past,” when she was sharper than ever. She was primed for the new world of entertainment, defined by cable television and social media.



  • Betta

    Awwww Joan. So, so sorry and deeply saddened. I loved you and your work. You brought many laughs. Prayers and condolences to Melissa and her son, family, friends and fans.

 



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