The world reacts to death of ‘controlled lightning bolt’ Joan Rivers

2014-09-05 08:31

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New York – Joan Rivers, the pioneering comedian known for her acerbic wit and classic put-downs, died yesterday at the age of 81 in a New York hospital, a week after her heart stopped during a procedure on her vocal cords.

Melissa Rivers, the comedian’s only child, said her mother died peacefully, surrounded by family and 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,” Melissa Rivers added.

There were no immediate details about a funeral or memorial service.

Rivers was the second leading American comedian to die in less than a month. Groundbreaking comedy star and actor Robin Williams hanged himself in August.

As news of her death spread, photographers, reporters and television crews gathered outside the hospital where Rivers died and fans placed bouquets of flowers at the entrance to her apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

A spokesperson for the medical examiner’s office in New York said it is investigating the cause and manner of Rivers’s death. She did not specify when the autopsy on Rivers would take place and when results would be released.

Friends and fellow comedians expressed their grief and sadness and praised 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,” said journalist Barbara Walters.

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his condolences to Rivers’s family and said she would be deeply missed.

Among others praising and remembering Rivers was actress Liza Minnelli who described her as a dear friend.

“I will always remember the laughter and friendship she brought into my life,” she said in a posting on Facebook.

Comedian Louis CK praised Rivers’ talent and genius.

“I never saw someone attack a stage with so much energy. She was a controlled lightning bolt,” he said.

Property mogul Donald Trump, who hosted the reality TV competition show The Apprentice, which Rivers won in 2009, described her as “an amazing woman and a great friend”.

Joan Alexandra Molinsky was born on June 8 1933 in Brooklyn and grew up there and in a nearby town, the daughter of a doctor and a housewife. The Barnard College graduate began pursuing an entertainment career with the last name Rivers, which she borrowed from her agent.

Actress Anna Kendrick, a target of the comedian’s barbed comments, said she will be truly missed.

“RIP Joan Rivers. Being publicly told that my dress is hideous will never feel quite as awesome,” she tweeted.

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