Joan Rivers Dies At 81

Joan Rivers, a comedian and entertainer whose career spanned decades, died after experiencing complications from an endoscopic procedure.

Joan Rivers Dies At 81
Getty Images / Alberto E. Rodriguez

Joan Rivers has died at age 81. During surgery on her throat Aug. 28, the comedian stopped breathing. She was put into a medically induced coma and then on life support.

NBC Nightly News was the first to report the news, sending out this tweet Thursday afternoon.

Her daughter, Melissa, released a statement saying: "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." 

The quick-witted Rivers was never afraid to speak her mind, even if, or maybe especially if, that meant an insult.

E! / "FASHION POLICE": "Someone needs to sit him down and say, 'You are not a big, black thug. You are just like your shoes: ordinary and completely white.'"

NBC / "THE TONIGHT SHOW": "I'm wearing the same underwear, which everyone backstage remembers."

But while Rivers had her critics, no one can deny she was a pioneer for female comedians.

She got her start on "The Tonight Show" in the 1960s, then appeared on the original "Candid Camera" as the bait to lure unsuspecting people. Rivers was always a hard worker: She appeared on "The Carol Burnett Show" and "The Ed Sullivan Show" and released multiple comedy albums.

She developed a close relationship with Johnny Carson, who made her his regular guest host, although the two had an infamous falling out when Fox offered her a late-night show in the same time slot as "The Tonight Show."

Rivers and her husband, TV and film producer Edgar Rosenberg, were both fired by Fox, and not long after he committed suicide. Rivers did not remarry.

She persisted with her career, winning a Daytime Emmy years later for her talk show "The Joan Rivers Show." She co-wrote a play and won a Tony Award and then started a new path: red carpet coverage. She covered awards shows for E! and the TV Guide Channel and later appeared in reality shows including "Celebrity Apprentice" and "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?"

Truly, her body of work is almost impossible to encompass. Rivers wrote multiple best-selling books. She was a Grammy nominee for her comedy. Rivers was always adapting. (Video via WE tv)

She even started a YouTube show, "In Bed With Joan," and her latest book, "Diary of a Mad Diva," came out this summer.

RIVERS ON CBS / "LATE SHOW": Rivers: "It doesn't read as funny as … "

DAVID LETTERMAN: "Are you sure?"

RIVERS: "Yeah."

LETTERMAN: "Just try. Just turn to any page."

RIVERS: "Well, there's one thing on Anne Frank, who I'm sick of."

Rivers is being remembered by celebrities, with several calling her "one of a kind" and saying she will be missed.

Rivers is survived by her daughter, Melissa, with whom she often collaborated, and one grandchild.