Legendary Comic, Joan Rivers, Dead at 81

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Legendary Comic, Joan Rivers, died today in Manhattan at 81. Read the entire obituary at The New York Times.

Joan Rivers, the raspy loudmouth who pounced on America’s obsessions with flab, face-lifts, body hair and other blemishes of neurotic life, including her own, in five decades of caustic comedy that propelled her from nightclubs to television to international stardom, died on Thursday in Manhattan. She was 81.

Ms. Rivers died at Mount Sinai Hospital, where she was taken last Thursday after reportedly losing consciousness while undergoing a procedure on her vocal cords at a doctor’s office on the Upper East Side. Doctors at the hospital placed her in a medically induced coma.

Joan had a reputation for humor that could be abrasive and mean spirited.   But to those folks who  reacted negatively to her aggressively unpc sensibility, she would say, “Grow up!”  

Joan told jokes her way, and without apology.  Although I didn’t always care for her in-your-face humor, I have ALWAYS admired her work ethic. Joan worked literally up until the day she died. She had many setbacks, including the end of her friendship with mentor, Johnny Carson, after she left NBC for FOX to be the first woman ever to host a late night talk show.

Not long after the show failed, Joan’s beloved husband committed suicide.  She had years where she couldn’t find work. Nevertheless, she always plowed ahead, reinventing herself when necessary.  Death was the only thing that would finally stop the indefatigable Joan Rivers.  And if there’s a heaven, Joan is probably already working a room somewhere.

She was one of a kind. A trail blazer. Rest in peace, Joan.

Daughter, Melissa Rivers, released a statement to the press:

“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1:17 pm 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.

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.”

Warm thoughts go out to Melissa and the rest of Joan’s friends and family.

A young Joan doing her thing on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1967

Here, she skewers gender roles and the unfair expectations society placed on women. Truly ahead of her time.

About mj santilli 33680 Articles
Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!


  1. ADAM LAMBERT @adamlambert
    Goodbye Joan. You were a bright light till the end. What a beautiful life and grand career you shared… instagram.com/p/siUEQLuNBZ/

    (Second that one – courageous woman)


  2. I loved Joan and I’m really sad about this news. Keeping the family in my thoughts. RIP Joan.

  3. RIP Joan Rivers… this quote from one of her books seems appropriate…

    “when I die, I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair, with lights, cameras, action… I want craft services, I want paparazzi, I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way!
    I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in 5 different accents.
    I don’t want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head, and sing ‘Mr Lonely’.
    I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I did alive.
    I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag.
    And I want a wind machine, so even in the casket, my hair is blowing just like Beyoncé’s”

  4. So sad to hear this. I was hoping Joan would pull through. I was fortunate enough to see her do her stand-up act last year during her theater tour. She was a tiny woman on a huge stage draped in feathers — and she was freaking hilarious!

    The people who think Joan Rivers was mean-spirited didn’t get her at all. Yeah, she was brash, but the majority of her wildest remarks were aimed directly at herself. She had amazing perspective about the way she was perceived. She occasionally made caustic remarks about other celebrities, but she did so in the same manner as Don Rickles. He always got canonized for it, but Joan didn’t because…you know…woman.

    RIP, Joan! That was one amazing life you lived.

  5. I feel like I’m in shock because I was just watching her on Fashion Police last week. This was so abrupt and sadly a harsh reminder of how we should never take each day for granted, I know Joan sure never did. That is one lady who sure lived life to its fullest. My heart hurts for Melissa. Times like this being an only child is very difficult. It sounds like she was doing her best to remain positive so I hope she can find some peace as she grieves.

  6. MICHAEL ORLAND @MichaelOrland
    R.I.P. @Joan_Rivers truly one of the greatest and funniest women. Ever. And nice (the couple of times I met her) and from all that knew her

    I feel so lucky to be able to say I met & worked with one of the most legendary, professional, funny women in entertainment. Rest in peace Ms. Rivers. You were one of a kind

  7. Joan Rivers said (paraphrasing) that the only thing that truly scared her was a blank page in her date book.

    My favorite thing she did was the dark comedy “The Girl Most Likely…”

  8. One of the hosts of QVC where Joan was a frequent guest on said that she saw first hand what a good hearted person she was beneath all those wild comments, that she was the kind of person who if she didnt even know you that well and learned that you would be alone for a holiday she would invite you over to her apartment.

  9. I watched the documentary about Joan (A Piece of Work) on Netflix, and I was struck by how driven and insecure she was. She will be missed.

  10. What a great adn honorable woman! Her defense of Israel last month was epic!

  11. I’ve always liked Joan Rivers. Her sense of humour and wit will truly be missed. RIP

  12. She was so mean it was hilarious.
    Will certainly be missed. Fashion Police wasn’t the nicest of shows…but it was damned funny.

  13. The world isn’t quite as funny as it was with Joan and Robin gone. This sucks. :(

  14. It was interesting to see that early clip mj posted. Very G-rated back in the day.

  15. Well, I’m furious with that papparazzo for chasing her and harassing her in order to achieve a “get.” It’s obvious in the video that he had already been poking sticks at Joan, as she was irate even before he asked her about Gaza. (But, of course, we’ll never see the preceding section of the film.) And why would he ask her, Joan Rivers, comedian, about Israel and Palestine? She wasn’t a politician or statesman. He asked because she was an elderly Jewish celebrity with a reputation for being outspoken and passionate. She is also a known supporter of Israel, which is politically incorrect nowadays. Anything out of her mouth on the topic other than, “I don’t want to discuss that subject with you!” would be TMZ worthy. Unfortunately for Joan’s reputation, she mouthed off while she was enraged.

  16. Not a big fan of her but I’m a little sad to hear that she was still very healthy and was living her life normally a couple of weeks before she had the surgery. Then all of a sudden she just passes away. So sudden but at least it wasn’t tragic or painful. RIP Joan Rivers.

  17. Her humor wasn’t always my cup of tea but there is no doubt about her impact and work ethic.

  18. Joan Rivers was a force of nature. Nobody quite like her. She was hilarious–and so quick with a joke or comeback. She could really think on her feet and think funny.
    Whether you liked her style of humor or not–she really did pave the way for women comedy. A true trailblazer. You got to admire someone like her. I certainly do.
    And it’s true–her work ethic was amazing. RIP Joan. Well, actually–I doubt she resting. She’s probably already working in the next life

  19. Joan was a great stand up comic. I saw her on her last tour and she was on her feet in high heels in her late 70s throught the show and she slayed. No one was left out of her zingers. I had been a fan for a great many years. With her and Robin gone, the world of comedy has a big loss.

  20. She is an icon. I think she had a funny interview with David Lee Roth back in the day. Long live the 80’s. Her humor wasn’t my cup of tea usually. But she was a genius.

  21. I grew up watching her on The Tonight Show. I, personally, loved her crazy brand of humor. The craziest thing is that when watching Fashion Police:Emmy’s and VMA’s I was thinking: I could watch her forever and I sure hope she is around for years (myself too)… and then this. She was an inspiration to women like myself trying to break barriers in the 60’s and 70’s. Joan, you are gone too soon… May your funeral be everything you want it to be and may Melissa and others close to you find comfort in the celebration. And amy everyone laugh like crazy.

  22. Joan was very alert and witty. I can’t help but wonder what she did to live such a long life. I wonder if that info is in her book? RIP Joan.

  23. I was never comfortable with Joan’s kind of humor, and never enjoyed her act, her hostessing, or her TV shows and never “chose” to watch her. But, by all accounts she was a loving wife, a concerned Mother, and a doting Grandmother and, apart from her very biting wit, a good friend and colleague. And she was a trailblazer for women and paved a lot of paths…so she deserves my respect and she obviously will be truly missed.

  24. Nice tribute, MJ. True, Joan’s humor was biting and harsh, but she was also incredibly self-deprecating in her “equal opportunity” ragging. R.I.P. Joan.

  25. Back in those days, everything on TV was G rated–particularly Sullivan, who was adamant about keeping his show super family-friendly. Elvis was only shot above the waist to avoid his gyrating hips, and The Doors were banned forever when they refused to edit a reference to sex in “Light My Fire.”

    I remember my parents coming back from a trip to Las Vegas, surprised by her “blue” nightclub act. They enjoyed it, but weren’t expecting such a major departure from her TV persona.

  26. I agree. Like when she said (referring to herself), “Dress by Oscar de la Renta, body by Oscar Mayer.” LOL

    RIP, Funny Lady

  27. Didn’t Robin Williams and Joan Rivers do a show together? That would be wild!

  28. I wonder how much Joan will get from this request. I’m sure that Melissa discussed it with her. Funny, yet it sounds like her.

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