Joan Rivers Dead: Hollywood Mourns Comedian
Hollywood is mourning Joan Rivers after the comedian died Thursday following a week in the hospital after she reportedly stopped breathing during surgery.
Rivers was moved out of intensive care on Wednesday and into a private room, but she died shortly after 1 p.m. EDT Thursday, according to a statement from her daughter, Melissa.
Fellow comedians, actors and media personalities were among those remembering Rivers, who was 81.
In a statement, E!, which airs Rivers' Fashion Police, and its parent company, NBCUniversal said: "E! and NBCUniversal send our deepest condolences to Melissa, [grandson] Cooper and her entire extended family on this incredibly sad day. For decades, Joan has made people laugh, shattered glass ceilings and revolutionized comedy. She was unapologetic and fiercely dedicated to entertaining all of us and has left an indelible mark on the people that worked with her and on her legions of fans. She’s been a much beloved member of the E! family for over 20 years, and the world is less funny without her in it. Today our hearts are heavy knowing Joan will not be bounding through the doors.”
Comedian David Steinberg added in a separate statement, "She was one of the best comedy guests Johnny [Carson] ever had …”
Barbara Walters said of Rivers: “No one loved life, laughter and a good time more than Joan. We would have dinner and laugh and gossip, and I always left the table smiling. She was a brassy, often outrageous and hilarious performer who made millions laugh. In private, she was the picture of elegance and class. I will miss her."
Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, also remembered Rivers, saying through his media adviser, "Joan Rivers brought laughter to millions around the world and was proud of her Jewish heritage and a vocal supporter of the State of Israel. We will miss her deeply and we send our heartfelt condolences to her family."
Ryan Seacrest said: "Joan was a trailblazer in so many ways, and I greatly admired her talent and humor. She was a colleague and friend, as we worked together on E!, and she was also a treasured guest on my radio show many times. Regardless of the forum, Joan was full of funny, witty surprises and she had so much spirit. She will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to Melissa and her family."
Kelly Ripa added in a statement: "Joan Rivers was a pioneer in the entertainment industry. Fearless, tireless and brilliantly funny. I will forever look up to Joan. She was a true friend. My thoughts and prayers are with her family."
David Letterman, meanwhile, paid tribute to Rivers during Thursday night's Late Show, saying, “Here’s a woman, a real pioneer for other women looking for careers in stand-up comedy. And talk about guts — she would come out here and sit in this chair and say some things that were unbelievable, just where you would have to swallow pretty hard… but it was hilarious… the force of her comedy was overpowering."
Roseanne Barr penned a lengthy tribute to Rivers, who paved the way for her and other female comedians, for The Huffington Post, explaining that she appreciated how Rivers made fun of the societal pressure that made her concerned about her looks, which Barr pointed out “isn't just telling jokes, it's actual layered feminist social critique, of which Joan was a master.”
“She was always surprising us, always defying the status quo, always courageous, loud, opinionated and damning…Joan was constantly praised and then hounded by sexist Hollywood for having an independent point of view and a sense of unmatched female inner power -- no one has ever seen such a fierce woman in any media,” Barr wrote. “She paid the cost to be the boss. Most comics couldn't hold up mentally to the kind of humiliation that Hollywood put Joan Rivers through. She turned it all back on their sexism though, like St. Joan the Conquerer. She kept getting braver and braver.”
Barr added that she was hoping Rivers would recover from her hospital scare but her death was one final surprise.
“I wanted her to beat death's ass down, too, and prayed for that to happen, but she took her last curtain call instead, surprising me one last time,” she wrote. “You controlled the room always, in the most professional way, too. You leveled the playing ground for all comedians. You'll be missed, but not forgotten. Copied but never matched. Never bested.”
Here's more of what Hollywood said about Rivers on social media:
Recalling when she burst onto the Tonight Show scene when I was a kid - #RIP Joan Rivers— Ralph Macchio (@ralphmacchio) Sept. 4, 2014
RIP Joan Rivers. A force of nature.— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) Sept. 4, 2014
we lost a great one in @Joan_Rivers - she was funny all the way to the end— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) Sept. 4, 2014
Joan Rivers!!! Oh Noooo!!!— Queen Latifah (@IAMQUEENLATIFAH) Sept. 4, 2014
Joan Rivers was a huge presence in American comedy forever. She was one of a kind and will be a great loss to all who loved humor. R.I.P.— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) Sept. 4, 2014
RIP Joan Rivers. She was so damn funny.— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) Sept. 4, 2014
So sad to hear that Joan Rivers has died. She seemed to be on a roll and had gone to the hospital for a minor procedure. She made us laugh.— HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) Sept. 4, 2014
In a business full of double talkers Joan Rivers was never afraid to say exactly what she was thinking. She will be missed.— andy lassner (@andylassner) Sept. 4, 2014
My heart is broken for Joan Rivers and her family . It's hard to believe she's gone. RIP Joan.— Carnie Wilson (@CarnieWilson) Sept. 4, 2014
RIP Joan Rivers and thank you for the laughter. #canwetalk?— David Gregory (@davidgregory) Sept. 4, 2014
RIP Joan. What a tough trailblazing lady. We've lost so much laughter this year.— josh groban (@joshgroban) Sept. 4, 2014
Heartbroken to hear about Joan Rivers. She was so kind to me, to my family, and she helped many people behind the scenes. RIP to the legend.— Christian Siriano (@CSiriano) Sept. 4, 2014
My friend Joan Rivers has passed away once again to quote Billy Crystal... There are no words. Bon Voyage Joan— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) September 4, 2014
RIP Joan Rivers... You made fun of my boobies just last week and it was an HONOR. Thanks for making so many people laugh here on Earth.— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) September 4, 2014
Joan Rivers once told me she would die before she'd ever apologize for a joke. I'm glad she made it.— Anthony Jeselnik (@anthonyjeselnik) September 4, 2014
Joan Rivers was one of the smartest and most beautifully flawed women of all time.— Molly Ringwald (@MollyRingwald) September 4, 2014