US comedienne Joan Rivers dies at 81

Updated: 2014-09-05 09:15


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US comedienne Joan Rivers dies at 81

Comedian Joan Rivers arrives for the premiere of the documentary "Joan Rivers - A Piece Of Work" during the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in this January 25, 2010 file photo. Rivers died on September 4, 2014 in New York a week after suffering cardiac arrest during an outpatient medical procedure, her daughter said in a statement. She was 81. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW YORK - Legendary American comedian Joan Rivers died at a New York hospital Thursday. She was 81.

Rivers, who was hailed as a comedy icon and trailblazer, was hospitalized last week after she went into cardiac arrest following a routine procedure.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers," her only child and daughter Melissa Rivers announced in a statement. "She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends." Her daughter confirmed the comedian died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

"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 too."

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday also issued a statement to mourn the death of Joan Rivers, sending his condolences to her family by saying "Joan Rivers was an iconic New Yorker whose wit and humor will always be remembered. Joan made the nation laugh for more than fifty years, and for that we will always be grateful."

Comedienne Rivers was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in the suburbs of the Big Apple. Local media reports described Rivers as a pioneer for women in comedy in an era of male domination. She had also been well known for her unapologetic love of plastic surgery as her barbed humor. She never recovered after going into cardiac and respiratory arrest on Aug. 28.

Rivers' daytime talk show earned her an Emmy Award in 1990, with the program earning another six nominations in the next three years. And the 2010 documentary "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" collected plaudits at both the Sundance Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.

"She remains one of the most transgressive and fearless of comedians, and one of the quickest, fastest and most merciless," said critic Roger Ebert.

The New York state health department is investigating the circumstances surrounding Rivers' cardiac arrest during an outpatient procedure. The department is looking into "the whole matter," said Spokesman James O'Hare Thursday. He declined to discuss specifics.

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