Emmy Award-winning comedian Joan Rivers has died at the age of 81.
The comic went in for throat surgery on her vocal chords on August 28, but stopped breathing during the procedure and was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital. She was considered to be in critical condition (and reportedly went into cardiac arrest), but that status changed to stable not long after arriving.
Rivers was reportedly on life support, and put into a medically induced coma, to ease the trauma put on her body. Over the last several days, doctors went through the process of taking her out of the coma, and only then would they be able to determine the seriousness and potential damage. Yesterday, she was moved out of ICU and into a private room.
Rivers' daughter Melissa released a statement: "It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother. Cooper and I have found ourselves humbled by the outpouring of love, support and prayers we have received from around the world. They have been heard and appreciated. 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."
Melissa has been very open throughout this difficult time, providing frequent updates about her mother to the public.
Joan Rivers, who received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989, was a controversial comedian who never held back her opinions, even when her comments caused a firestorm -- she earned plenty of fans and critics as a result.
In the '60s and '70s, she appeared on shows like The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, even joining the former as a permanent guest host for Johnny Carson. Rivers left to start her own late night program, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, in 1986, which caused a falling-out between the two. (She was then banned from The Tonight Show until just this year when current host Jimmy Fallon invited her on.) A few years later, she would launch a daytime show, The Joan Rivers Show, in 1989 and ended up winning a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host.
Rivers is also known for having undergone numerous plastic surgeries, but being the comic that she is, she's always been able to make fun of herself, even saying once, "I've had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware."
In recent years, Rivers, considered the queen of the red carpet, competed on the second season of The Celebrity Apprentice (with her daughter) and won. Since 2002, she's been a co-host on E!'s Fashion Police, where she and the other hosts have dished out praise and plenty of criticisms of what everyone's wearing in Hollywood. She and her daughter also starred in their own reality show, Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?, on We TV -- the most recent season ended in May.
(Image courtesy of WENN)