Joan Rivers, a talk-show host, actress and red-carpet critic who rose to the top of comedy's ranks while unapologetically skewering everyone and everything she passed along the way, died Thursday in New York following complications from a medical procedure. She was 81 years old.
Comedian and television personality Joan Rivers died at age 81 on Sept. 4 at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital. Ms. Rivers was known for blazing a trail in late-night television and her biting red-carpet fashion commentary. Photo: Getty Images.
From the Archive
Comedy legend Joan Rivers discusses her history on late night television, working with Johnny Carson, and her feelings on Jay Leno 's time at the 'Tonight Show.' This is an excerpt of a longer interview with WSJ's Lee Hawkins.
"She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends," her daughter, Melissa Rivers, said in a statement.
One of comedy's most recognizable faces—thanks in part to a series of plastic surgeries she made fun of as much as her detractors did—Ms. Rivers rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s on the talk-show scene, injecting crass and controversial jokes into the buttoned-up, male-dominated network shows.
After first appearing on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson " in 1965, Ms. Rivers started a talk-show career that included stints on "The Tonight Show" and "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers" on Fox in 1986. When she launched the rival program, she said Mr. Carson, her mentor, never spoke to her again.
Ms. Rivers become a permanent fixture on TV after that, most famously as a critic of celebrity fashion.