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Comedian Joan Rivers Dies at Age 81

  • Reuters

FILE - Joan Rivers attends the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment 2014 Upfront at the Javits Center in New York, May 15, 2014.

FILE - Joan Rivers attends the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment 2014 Upfront at the Javits Center in New York, May 15, 2014.

U.S. comedian Joan Rivers died on Thursday in New York a week after suffering cardiac arrest during an outpatient medical procedure, her daughter said in a statement. She was 81.

"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," Melissa Rivers said.

"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," she continued. "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", Rivers said. "Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon."

Joan Rivers was considered a pioneer for women in stand-up comedy.

The Brooklyn native, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College, played the comedy club scene in New York in the 1960s with others who also would go on to become stars, including Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen and George Carlin.

During her lengthy career, the husky-voiced, Brooklyn-born comedian won fame for her scathing put-downs and was known for asking, "Can we talk?"

Rivers, who was known for her acerbic brand of humor, once described herself as the "plastic surgery poster girl" and joked about her numerous procedures.

In 1983, she earned one of the biggest gigs in the business when then-"Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson crowned her as his regular guest host.

But her subsequent, short-lived stint hosting a competing late night talk show on Fox network in 1986 led to a rift with Carson that lasted until his death in 2005.

She went on to host an Emmy Award-winning daytime show, "The Joan Rivers Show," and more recently had found a niche on the awards show circuit, turning her biting wit on the fashion faux pas of Hollywood celebrities.

Rivers won Donald Trump's reality TV show "The Apprentice" in 2009 and starred in the reality TV program "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?"

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