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Controversial and gravelly-voice comedienne Joan Rivers has died at age 81, her daughter Melissa Rivers says.
Rivers was admitted to New York’s Mt. Sinai hospital after she stopped breathing during throat surgery and was then placed in a medically induced coma. She went into cardiac arrest on September 3 during a medical procedure.
In her career that spanned more than five decades, Rivers was known for breaking the boundaries of female comedians. In an era where sex was taboo, Rivers openly joked about the topic and was self-deprecating in her stand-up, opening up a new door for women in comedy. Later in her career, Rivers was open about her family, marriage, and her plastic surgery.
Other areas that Rivers ventured into were the occasional host of “The Tonight Show” and host of E!’s “Fashion Police,” where she critiqued the fashion choices of celebrities at various red carpet events.
In 2009 Rivers was roasted on Comedy Central where Kathy Griffin introduced her as a “legendary bitch” and a year later she was the subject of a documentary, “A Piece of Work,” that received critical acclaim and commercial success.
Rivers was born Joan Molinsky in Brooklyn, New York in 1933. Before entering show business, her agent Tony Rivers suggested she change her name, so she chose Joan Rivers (her daughter will later adopt the same name). Rivers married Edgar Rosenberg on July 15, 1965. The marriage produced River’s only child, Melissa Rivers. Rosenberg committed suicide in 1987.
Rivers had placed herself in several situations that arose because of her controversial comments, including calling Michelle Obama a “transgender” and speculating that President Obama was gay. She also landed in hot water for her comments on Palestine earlier this year. Despite her harsh remarks, Rivers still enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle of fame and a loyal fan base. She can arguably be called the first celebrity that America loved to hate, and that’s what her legacy is. Her career and choice of comedy can be accurately summed up by her quote, “I succeeded by saying what everyone else was thinking,” and we need that in times like these.