Hollywood mourns as US queen of comedy Joan Rivers dies at 81
Joan Rivers - the raucous, acid-tongued comedienne who crashed the male-dominated realm of US late-night talk shows - has died aged 81.
The American comedian suffered a heart attack during routine throat surgery last Thursday and was admitted to the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
Her daughter Melissa said: "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 raspy-voiced blonde with the brash New York accent helped patent pre-awards commentary – and the snarky criticism that often accompanies it.
She famously turned Hollywood red carpets into danger zones for badly dressed celebrities and had insults ready for all races, genders and creeds.
During a long career, she moved from long-time targets such as the weight problems of Elizabeth Taylor, of whom she said "her favorite food is seconds", to newer foes such as Miley Cyrus, and continued to appear on stage and on TV into her 80s.
In the early 1960s, she worked her way up from local clubs in New York until, in 1965, she landed her big break on The Tonight Show after numerous rejections.
She launched The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers on Fox in 1986, but the venture lasted just a season and came at a heavy price: Tonight Show host Johnny Carson cut ties with her when she surprised him by becoming a competitor.
Rivers had one daughter, Melissa, and one grandson, Cooper. Her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, died by suicide in 1987 after she was fired from her Fox talk show, which he produced.
British-born bestselling novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford said: "Aside from her humour and comedic talents, she also made her friends laugh in private. Hospitable and generous to a fault, she was loyal and there for all of us."