Following a week of hospitalization resulting from complications during vocal cord surgery, Joan Rivers has died at the age of 81. Her daughter Melissa confirmed in a statement, "She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends. 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."
Fierce, unapologetic, and relentless in every sense and to everyone--including herself--Rivers was for decades a mainstay in the world of comedy. Breaking out with an appearance on The Tonight Show, she would become a frequent visitor and guest host to Johnny Carson for twenty years. She then got her own show on Fox--causing friction between her and then-rival Carson--that lasted less than a year.
Still, never one to be deterred by a setback--not even the suicide of her husband--she continued to be a fixture in the talk show world. Since 2002, she's used her ruthlessly barbed wit against celebrity apparel on Fashion Police. More notably to those who don't watch trashy E! shows, she was the recognizable voice of Dot Matrix in Spaceballs, and made appearances as herself in things like Iron Man 3, Shrek 2, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Louie, where she had sex with Louis. May that not be what she's remembered for.