Joan Rivers (file)
Joan Rivers (file)Reuters

Media personality Joan Rivers has died after being taken off life support, her daughter Melissa said in a statement Thursday night. She was 81. Rivers is survived by Melissa, 46, and grandson Cooper Endicott, 13.

"It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers," Melissa Rivers said in a statement released to the press.

"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," she continued. "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," she added.

Investigation launched

The “Fashion Police” host was being treated in a private room at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, sources told the New York Daily News, after being placed in a medically-induced coma eight days ago. 

Rivers went into cardiac and respiratory arrest during a routine medical procedure, and had been placed on life support.

Precious time was lost as she needed to be transferred from the clinic - which the Daily News named as Yorkville Endoscopy on E. 93rd St. - to hospital, and an investigation has been launched into why an outpatient procedure on her vocal cords was transformed into a life-threatening event. 

“The State Health Department is investigating the matter,” agency spokesman James O'Hare told the Daily News.

Words of support

Just three weeks ago, Rivers defended Israel in a video clip, noting during the height of anti-Israel media coverage that Hamas terrorists began firing rockets on Israeli civilians first, prompting Israel's fifty-day offensive, Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. 

“They started it. We now don’t count who’s dead. You’re dead, you deserve to be dead... Don’t you dare make me feel sad about that... You don’t get out, then you know you’re an idiot,” Rivers said, in a response to celebrity website TMZ

The clip quickly went viral and earned her both scorn and admiration, and gained further publicity after thousands of people signed a petition to cancel Rivers's scheduled tour in Britain due to her pro-Israel stance. 

Comedic legend

Rivers was well-known for her self-deprecating humor as much as her acid tongue. 

Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky on June 8, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York, she graduated from Barnard College in 1954.

Rivers made her comedic debut as one of the few women comics in the late 50s, and became known for daring to express her views at a time where censorship was the norm - and continuing to express them, fearlessly and despite potential backlash, until her death. 

She would later become Johnny Carson's "permanent guest host" on the Tonight Show, host her own talk show on Fox, pen over ten humor books and even become the subject of her own documentary, Joan Rivers -- A Piece of Work (2010).