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Legendary comedian Joan Rivers died Sept. 4 at age 81 in Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, daughter Melissa announced. She was rushed to the hospital Aug. 28 and placed on life support after she suffered from respiratory and cardiac arrest during surgery on her vocal cords in a doctor’s office.
“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,” Melissa stated.
The Hollywood Reporter rounds up 10 of Rivers’ most memorable moments over the years, from talk-show appearances and her stand-up comedy to a recent CNN walk-off and Fashion Police snark.
Ed Sullivan standout (1967)
Rivers made her mark on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1967. Her topic? The grief she got from her family for not being married by the time she was the ripe old age of (gasp!) 26. “A girl, you’re 30 years old, you’re an old maid. A man, he’s 90 years old, he’s not married, he’s a catch.”
Boobs on The Carol Burnett Show (1976)
Rivers joked about her — ahem — small bust in 1976. She claimed her wedding night was quite awkward: “My husband said let me help you with the buttons, and I said ‘I’m naked!’ “
Funny with Johnny Carson (1986)
Rivers had a long association with The Tonight Show, filling in for Johnny Carson as a guest host, eventually being banned by the man himself after she agreed to do her own show. In 1986, the pair reminisced about comedy and … whether or not she’d had a boob job. “With age comes wisdom. You don’t need big boobs to be feminine,” she said. “Look at Liberace.”
Insults on the red carpet (2006)
In an attempt to thank her crew, Rivers ended up insulting them instead on a TV Guide Channel red-carpet special she was hosting: ” … Starting with you … the other one … the one with the big, fat ass …” Whoops.
Celebrity Apprentice showdown (2009)
Rivers competed alongside her daughter on the second edition of Donald Trump‘s Celebrity Apprentice, which she would later win over poker player Annie Duke. When Melissa was fired by Trump, Rivers let Duke and Brande Roderick have a piece of her mind. The lesson? Never cross Rivers.
Co-hosting The View (2010)
Rivers joined Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd and Barbara Walters at the desk back in 2010, and she didn’t hold back her dislike for reality-TV star Kate Gosselin. When the topic of the mom of eight competing on Dancing With the Stars came up, Rivers was visibly disturbed. “Every time she lifts her leg, I think another kid is going to fly out.”
Taking on Kristen Stewart on Fashion Police (2011)
Rivers dished out both kudos and zingers on the E! show. (OK, she was most beloved for the zingers.) In 2011, she took on Kristen Stewart. For the record, Rivers liked Stewart’s dress, but then pretended to have a change of heart when she realized how jealous of the actress she was. “I look at her and I realize I’m 1,000 years old I’m on a show on E! that nobody advertises and I live with my daughter, so I f—ing hate her and her dress!”
Memorable appearance on FX’s Louie (2011)
Rivers’ episode of Louie is considered among the show’s greatest. It capped off with a frank monologue on the nature of comedy and what it does to those who pursue it. “What we do is a calling,” she told Louis C.K. — right before he made an inappropriate pass at her.
Jimmy Fallon welcomes her back to Tonight Show (2014)
Rivers returned to NBC’s storied late-night talker in February for the first time in more than 25 years after being banned by Carson. “It’s about time!” Rivers said during her visit. “I’ve been sitting in a taxi outside NBC with the meter running since 1987.” She was one of several stars who helped christen Fallon’s new digs (and “pay off” a $100 Tonight Show bet).
Walks out of CNN interview (2014)
Earlier this year, Rivers appeared on CNN Newsroom with host Fredricka Whitfield and walked off after the conversation turned to her boundaries when telling jokes. “This whole interview is becoming a defensive interview,” Rivers said, also protesting that Whitfield’s line of questioning was mainly “negative.” She then cut short the taped nationally televised interview. In a Late Show appearance, David Letterman walked off midway through his interview with Rivers, who kept the one-way chat going of course.
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