Acerbic comedian Joan Rivers dies aged 81

Comic never recovered consciousness after suffering cardiac arrest during surgery last week

The comedian Joan Rivers has died, her daughter announced tonight. She was 81.

Rivers suffered a cardiac arrest during throat surgery on her vocal cords at a clinic in New York last week. She was rushed to Mount Sinai hospital in the city, and was moved from its intensive care unit into a private room on Wednesday. She never recovered consciousness.

Melissa Rivers confirmed the news in a statement: "It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1.17pm surrounded by family and close friends."

Rivers had been hosting an online weekly talk show called In Bed with Joan and had just filmed her special award show episode of Fashion Police before being taken ill.


She was regularly performing live stand-up performances and had wrapped the fourth season of her and her daughter‘s reality show: Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best.

“If there is a secret to being a comedian, it‘s just loving what you do,“ Rivers said in 2012. “It is my drug of choice. I don‘t need real drugs. I don‘t need liquor. It‘s the joy that I get performing. That is my rush. I get it nowhere else.“

The Brooklyn-born comedian worked the New York comedy scene alongside Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, George Carlin and Woody Allen. Her big break came with an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1965 and she has been a mainstay of American television ever since.

She recently moved to California to be closer to her family, a move that like many other parts of Rivers' life, was chronicled on a television program: Joan & Melissa.

Her caustic brand of humor frequently targeted celebrities, as well as herself. This no-holds-barred attitude would also push the line with comments that some people deemed insensitive.

This month, TMZ released footage of Rivers saying that “all Palestinians deserve to be dead“, though she claims the recorded tirade was taken out of context.

Guardian Service