Speed Reads

Rest in peace

Joan Rivers has died at 81

Joan Rivers has died at 81, her daughter Melissa confirmed to The Associated Press.

Rivers died Thursday after going into cardiac arrest during vocal chord surgery on Aug. 28. Melissa Rivers announced that her mother had been placed on life support and was in critical condition at New York's Mount Sinai hospital on Sept. 2.

Rivers was renowned for her raunchy and blunt comedy, which began with a standup career in New York City and led to her occasionally guest hosting The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. More recently, Rivers channeled her acerbic wit into critiquing celebrities' red carpet style on E!'s Fashion Police.

The edgy Rivers was never one to bite her tongue, at one point calling Michelle Obama "transgender" and suggesting that Lena Dunham encouraged young women to "stay fat" and get diabetes. But no matter what the opinion of her controversial remarks, Rivers is widely respected for inspiring female standup comedians in a field that was dominated by men. Variety notes that "prior to Rivers, women performers rarely, if ever, discussed sex." But for Rivers, honest routines, including those with references to her own sexuality, were the norm.

"My mother's greatest joy in life was to make people laugh," Melissa Rivers said in a statement. "Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon."