JOAN Rivers has died in hospital in New York at the age of 81.
The American comedian suffered a heart attack in a doctor’s surgery last Thursday and was admitted to the Mount Sinai Hospital.
Her daughter Melissa said in a statement last night: “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.”
The day before her death, Rivers was moved out of intensive care and her daughter said she was “being kept comfortable”, but her condition deteriorated.
Rivers had one daughter, Melissa, and one grandson, Cooper. Her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, died in 1987.
Melissa Rivers added: “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.”
She was born Joan Molinsky in Brooklyn to Russian immigrants Meyer Molinsky, a doctor, and Beatrice.
Rivers originally entered showbusiness with the dream of being an actress, but comedy was a way to pay the bills while she auditioned for dramatic roles. She worked her way up from local clubs in New York until, in 1965, she landed her big break on The Tonight Show. Rivers hosted a morning talk show on NBC in 1968 and, the next year, made her Las Vegas debut with female comedians still a relative rarity.
She has gone on to become one of the most famous comedians in the world.