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Joan Rivers dies in hospital

Joan Rivers, the raucous, acid-tongued American comedian, died today. She was 81.

She was taken to hospital last week after suffering a cardiac arrest at a Manhattan doctor's office following a routine procedure.

Her daughter Melissa Rivers said she died surrounded by family and close friends.

Miss Rivers - who opened her routine with the trademark "Can we talk?" - never mellowed during a decades-long career. She moved from long-time targets such as Elizabeth Taylor, whom she famously ridiculed as fat, to new faces, and continued to appear in clubs and on TV into her 80s.

The New York state health department is investigating the circumstances surrounding Rivers' cardiac arrest during an outpatient procedure.

Spokesman James O'Hare said the department is looking into "the whole matter", declining to discuss specifics.

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