Comedian Joan Rivers has passed away after being hospitalized in intensive care for throat surgery gone tragically wrong on August 28th. After being rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side in New York City, Rivers was eventually placed into a medically induced coma. When her condition did not improve, she was placed on life support and eventually her daughter, Melissa, opted to have her moved to a private room where life support was terminated.

Melissa Rivers released the following statement regarding the tragedy:

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. 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.

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.

Rivers passed away in the same city she was born in, growing up in Brooklyn, NYC as Joan Alexandra Molinsky. She earned degrees in English and social anthropology and worked odd jobs (tour guide, fashion coordinator, writer) before a progressive pursuit of comedy through various means in both NYC and Chicago.

Early on she appeared on Candid Camera and wrote material for industry names like Zsa Zsa Gabor and Ed Sullivan. She famously got her big break with her first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1965, and after many returns to the show, she was eventually appointed as a fill-in host for Carson, thereby boosting her career.

From the ’60s – ’80s Rivers did everything from TV to movies to writing and stand-up – to varying degrees of success. A bad stretch hit in the late ’80s when Rivers had a falling out with Carson over a Late Show she launched under her own name, on the upstart Fox network. Thereafter her marriage to manager Edgar Rosenberg deteriorated along with her late-night show, culminating in a cancellation of show, and Rosenberg’s suicide, which rocked Rivers and sent her into seclusion.

Joan Rivers on Louie with Louis CK Joan Rivers Dead at 81

Joan Rivers on ‘Louie’ in 2011


By 1989 Rivers reappeared with a daytime talk show and won Emmys for her efforts over the next few years. She also incorporated her daughter Melissa into her brand throughout the ’90s, as the pair became famous for hosting major red carpet events. Rivers continued to write, act, host and perform comedy throughout the 2000s (she was even roasted at one point), and in 2010 she and Melissa launched Fashion Police for the E! Network – a show she hosted up until her passing.

Even in geek circles Rivers made a splash, appearing in Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and on a famous season 2 episode of Louie in 2011, where she delivered (what is now) this poignantly beautiful, sad and ultimately funny monologue on long winding road of showbiz :

We wish Melissa Rivers and her family strength and support in their time of loss.

 R.I.P. Joan Rivers (Joan Alexandra Molinsky), June 8, 1933 – September 4, 2014.