Tributes have poured in for American comedian Joan Rivers following her death at the age of 81.
Famed for her caustic wit, Rivers has been described as “funny and fearless” by fellow comedians and others from the world of showbiz.
The mother-of-one suffered a heart attack in a doctor’s surgery last Thursday and was admitted to the Mount Sinai Hospital.
Her daughter Melissa said in a statement yesterday: “It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers.
“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 day before her death, Rivers was moved out of intensive care and her daughter said she was “being kept comfortable”, but her condition deteriorated.
Rivers had one grandson, Cooper. Her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, died in 1987.
Melissa Rivers added: “Cooper and I have found ourselves humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and prayers we have received from around the world. They have been heard and appreciated.
“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.”
Rivers was a veteran of showbusiness, with half a century working in entertainment under her belt.
She was known for her acid tongue and for undergoing plastic surgery.
In 2010 she joked: “With all the plastic surgery I’ve had I’m worried that when I die, God won’t recognise me!”
She was host of Fashion Police and also had an online talk show called In Bed With Joan.
Comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted: “RIP the mighty Joan Rivers. Funny & fearless. Truly one of a kind.”
British-born best-selling novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford said: “It is with great sorrow that (husband) Bob and I have just heard of Joan’s passing.
“What a terrible loss to her daughter, Melissa, and her grandson, Cooper, and to all of her friends and fans. Joan was a great friend to have.
“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 always there for all of us. She will be terribly missed.
“Bob and I send many condolences and much love to Melissa, Cooper and their family. Just imagine: we won’t hear those witty, sometimes caustic, but always funny one-liners ever again.
“Goodbye Joan Rivers. You’ll always be in our hearts.”
Singer Boy George said Rivers had been a big part of his working life.
“Goodbye my friend Joan Rivers. You were a huge part of my professional life and you brightened up the horizon with your Chutzpah! Sad!”
Actor Hugh Jackman said: “We lost one of the true originals today. Joan Rivers. A force. You will be missed.”
US television host Larry King tweeted: “Joan Rivers was a dear and wonderful friend who I’ve known for 45 years. Great guest, pal, comedian & mother. We will never see her likes again.”
A statement from television network E! and NBC Universal hailed Rivers as having revolutionised 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.”
Television host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres said Rivers had led the way for others.
“Joan Rivers will always be a pioneer. She paved the way for a lot of comedians. I’m very sad she’s gone,” she tweeted.
Fellow fashion Police panellist Kelly Osbourne said she was heartbroken by the loss of someone she considered a grandmother.
“She was family and I will never forget her. Laughter will be difficult for a while but when I’m sad, lonely or upset all I will have to do is think of Joan and a smile will cross my face. ... I will miss you deeply and will always hear your voice in my head saying, ’My darling get out there and be you!”’