Comedians, friends and fans yesterday paid tribute and mourned the loss of Joan Rivers, the sassy, sharp-tongued, comedy legend who died a week after her heart stopped during an outpatient medical procedure.
Rivers (81) died peacefully on Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, surrounded by family and friends, her only child, Melissa Rivers, said.
As bouquets of flowers piled up at the entrance of her Upper East Side home, comedians and others remembered the raspy voiced, Brooklyn native who helped pave the road for women in comedy, in statements, tweets and Facebook posts.
Late-night talk-show host David Letterman said the force of her comedy was overpowering.
“Here’s a woman, a real pioneer for other women looking for careers in stand-up comedy,” he said. “And talk about guts – she would come out here and sit in this chair and say some things that were unbelievable, just where you would have to swallow pretty hard . . . but it was hilarious.”
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel described Rivers, who appeared on his late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live many times, as "a comedy legend".
“Joan was a very lucky person because she loved her job so much, she never wanted to stop and she didn’t have to stop, because she was still great at it,” he said on his show.
Rivers’ influence reached far beyond her New York roots – her blunt, unapologetic humour made millions of people laugh around the world.
Prince Charles said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of Rivers, who attended his 2005 wedding to the Duchess of Cornwall. “Joan Rivers was an extraordinary woman with an original and indefatigable spirit, an unstoppable sense of humour and an enormous zest for life,” he said in a statement. “She will be hugely missed and utterly irreplaceable.”
Rivers – whose catchphrase was “Can we talk?” – joked about everything, including her looks, marriage and sex.
After starting as a comedy writer and doing stand-up, she worked her way up to become a regular guest host for Johnny Carson on NBC's The Tonight Show. Carson and Rivers had a falling-out when she started her own late-night talk show in 1986 on the rival Fox network.
Later in her career, she and her daughter starred in the reality TV show Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?, with Rivers living with her grown child.
Most recently, Rivers was the host of cable television channel E!'s Fashion Police, commenting on the unfortunate red carpet choices of Hollywood celebrities. – (Reuters)