Joan Rivers Dead: Talk Show Hostess, Comedienne Passes Away At 81

Entertainment personality Joan Rivers, who has been in a coma since her heart stopped beating during outpatient surgery August 28, has died, WREG is reporting. She passed away at 1:17 p.m. at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

Fan reaction has been heartfelt. For example, Ellen DeGeneres tweeted:

And Martha Stewart tweeted:

Since falling ill on August 28, her illness had generated some bit of controversy in the media over just how serious it was. Her daughter Melissa at times suggested that she was going to recover, while other reports painted a much grimmer picture, according to this Inquisitr article.

Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in Brooklyn in 1933, according to Biography, Joan Rivers was a fixture of late-night talk shows, comedy stages, Broadway, Las Vegas, book signings, and tabloid TV for the better part of seven decades. After working a variety of odd jobs in New York while trying to break into show business, she adopted the stage name Joan Rivers on the advice of her agent.

Her big break came in 1965 when she was booked on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. With her acerbic, self-deprecating wit and sharp tongue, she became an instant hit. Her Tonight Show gig soon led to a daytime talk show, That Show With Joan Rivers (also called The Joan Rivers Show). She continued doing late-night appearances, with both Carson and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

In 1983 Carson named Joan Rivers his permanent guest-host. Joan would later go on to call Carson “the man who handed me my career.” However, after she took job with Fox – the short-lived late night talk show The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers – her relationship with Johnny Carson soured and she was banned from The Tonight Show. For her part, Joan maintained that the conflict was with NBC and not Carson himself.

In her later career, Joan worked her tendency for jabs and insults into a continuous stream of gigs on tabloid TV, particularly offering her opinions on fashion. She hosted the E! series Live From The Red Carpet from 1996 until 2004. She continued to be a presence at red-carpet events like The Emmys and The Academy Awards, coining the catchphrase “Who are you wearing?” while quipping at celebrities about their fashion choices. She also had brief gigs on the tabloid-TV series Fashion Police, and a stint as a reality-TV personality with her daughter Melissa on Joan & Mellisa: Joan Knows Best?

Her long-standing ban from The Tonight Show ended unofficially on February 17 of this year when new host Jimmy Fallon, taking over the show from Jay Leno, invited Joan to appear uncredited in a sight gag. She appeared officially as a guest, for the first time in over 30 years, on March 27, and true to form, had the audience in stitches with her sharp jabs at just about everybody, including herself.

Funeral arrangements have not been officially announced.

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Image courtesy of: Parade