Joan Rivers passed away on Wednesday at the age of 81. On Aug. 28, she was in New York City having a surgical procedure performed on her vocal cords when she went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital.
Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, flew to the hospital immediately from Manhattan and upon her arrival Rivers had been put into a medically induced coma. She fought for her life with her family and friends by her side until the end.
“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers,” daughter Melissa said in a statement Thursday reported by People.
“She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. 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.”
Melissa added, “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.”
Joan Molinsky graduated a Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard in 1954, where she went on to work in the fashion industry for the Garment District of Manhattan. There she worked as a fashion coordinator for a clothing firm. There she not only found her first job, but also her first husband, James Sanger, who was her boss’s son. However, their union was short-lived and only lasted six months.
Her agent Tony Rivers suggested Joan change her name when she entered the comedic world, so she decided to take his. Her career at first consisted of many years spent struggling to make it big in comedy clubs and guest appearances here and there.
It was not until her appearance in 1965, on the NBC Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson that her career really took off. By 1985, she was named permanent host whenever Carson decided to take the night off which he apparently did pretty often.
When Carson planned to retire, Rivers was not in the running to replace him so she decided to take a $3 million dollar offer to star as the host of her own late night show for Fox network that would run opposite of the Tonight Show.
The show was a flop and it only lasted one year. It was during that year that Rivers second husband,Edgar Rosenberg, whom she had been married to for 22 years, committed suicide. On top of her loss, her and Rosenberg’s only daughter were not on speaking terms after his death. At the time, Rivers admitted to also considering suicide after a beyond devastating year.
However, Rivers was able to revive her career and patch up her relationship with her daughter. Rivers started her own QVC line which took off. Then, her and her daughter Melissa starred together in the 1994 TV docudrama Tears and Laugher: The Joan and Melissa Rivers Story. She went on to become one of E!’s Fashion Police most popular stars and hosted her own online talk show called In Bed with Joan. She and Melissa also costarred on the WEtv reality show Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?
Her witty and unapologetically honest humor will be missed dearly by her family, friends and fans.