The red carpet just got a lot less fun. Joan Rivers has passed away at age 81, according to her daughter, Melissa Rivers. Melissa released a statement on September 4 announcing the news (shared via TheWrap).
“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers,” she writes. “She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends.”
The Hollywood icon’s career spanned nearly seven decades. A Barnard graduate, Joan began acting in the 1950s and scored her big break in the early 1960s as a regular fixture on variety shows like The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.
While younger fans might know her best for her work policing the fashion world on E! and for her candid personal revelations ranging from plastic surgery to one-night stands, Joan spent most of her career working as a comedienne. She was a familiar face on popular programs like The Carol Burnett Show and Hollywood Squares. Joan also befriended and helped make the careers of many of our favorite actors including Billy Crystal, whom she directed in her one stint behind the camera, 1978’s Rabbit Test.
Her contributions were recognized in a statement released by E! and NBCUniversal following her passing: “For decades Joan has made people laugh, shattered glass ceilings, and revolutionized comedy. She was unapologetic and fiercely dedicated to entertaining all of us and has left an indelible mark on the people that worked with her and on her legions of fans,” it reads. “She’s been a much beloved member of the E! family for over 20 years and the world is less funny without her in it. Today our hearts are heavy knowing Joan will not be bounding through the doors.”
Joan also made waves as an author, publishing more than 10 different books. She started with Having a Baby Can Be a Scream in 1974 and ended with this year’s Diary of a Mad Diva. She earned one Daytime Emmy during her career, taking home the Outstanding Talk/Service Show Host award in 1989 for The Joan Rivers Show. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame came that same year.
Offstage, Joan married twice, the second union producing daughter Melissa, who has grown up to become Joan’s right-hand woman and fellow TV star. It was Melissa who kept the public up to date about her mother’s condition after Joan went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing during an endoscopy on August 28. She was later placed on life support in a medically induced coma before being moved to a private room.
“My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh,” Melissa continued in her September 4 statement. “Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.”
Our thoughts are with Melissa, her family, and all of Joan’s friends and fans as we deal with this difficult loss.
Source: Jordan Zakarin on Twitter