Legendary comedian Joan Rivers has passed away today after having been on life support since last week. She went into cardiac arrest last week while surgeons were operating on her vocal chords during an outpatient procedure. Rivers’ daughter Melissa said she passed away surrounded by friends and family members.

She said her mother died at 1:17 p.m. today. She and her son thanked the Mt. Sinai staff for the “amazing care” they gave to Joan Rivers while she was in the hospital.

joan rivers

“My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh,” Melissa Rivers said in her statement. “Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.”

Looking back on Joan Rivers’ career

Joan Rivers has been working a lot recently. She had been co-hosting the TV show Fashion Police, which airs on E!. The comedian critiqued celebrities’ outfits as they attended the Oscars and the MTV Video Music Awards.

After changing her name from Joan Molinsky, Rivers began her acting career on stage with Barbra Sterisand in a play and then later appeared on the TV show Candid Camera. Then she appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and the Tonight Show in 1965 for the first time. In 2012, Joan Rivers said that when she originally got into acting, she never wanted to be a comedian. She said all comedians at that time were “white, older men” and that “nobody wanted to be a comedian.”

Joan Rivers gets into comedy

Johnny Carson ended up becoming Rivers’ mentor, and she permanently became his guest host on the Tonight Show in 1983. Three years later though, she left to host her own late night talk show on Fox, although The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers only lasted about a year. Her friendship with Carson also ended after she accepted the job.

After she was fired from the talk show, her second husband, who is Melissa Rivers’ father, committed suicide. Joan Rivers herself also reportedly considered committing suicide. She had said that Melissa wasn’t talking to her either and that she had lost her Las Vegas contracts.

However, she said that her dog saved her by sitting on the gun she held on her lap. She thought no one would take care of her dog. Later she began to speak about suicide to share her story with others who may be going through similar emotions.