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Joan Rivers dies at 81

Joan Rivers, trailblazing satirical comedian and television host, was taken off life support Thursday afternoon at a New York hospital after complications from a surgery earlier last week, according to her daughter Melissa Rivers. She was 81.

Rivers had been on life support since Aug. 28 after undergoing elective throat surgery at a Manhattan clinic, when she reportedly suffered a cardiac incident and stopped breathing. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she was put into a medically induced coma and remained in critical condition.

In a written statement, Melissa Rivers thanked the doctors, nurses and staff of the hospital and said she and son Cooper were “humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and prayers (they) have received from around the world.” She added that, “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.”

Rivers rose to fame in the ’70s and ’80s as a regular guest on TV comedy and variety shows, most notably The Tonight Show, where she was a protege of Johnny Carson and a frequent guest host. That relationship would ultimately sour in 1986, when the two had a falling-out sparked by Rivers’ announcement of her own talk show, The Late Show, on Fox, competing with The Tonight Show.

When that show failed a year later, Rivers would return to comedy with a variety of shows on stage and screen. She eventually took her ascerbic tongue to the red carpet, and hosted pre-awards shows on E! and TV Guide networks from the ’90s to the present day. She was also featured on weekly shows like E!’s Fashion Police, and Rivers had also begun to explore digital outlets. Only days before her hospital stay, she filmed the latest installment of her online talk show In Bed with Joan with Leann Rimes and her husband Eddie Cibrian.