Joan Rivers dies at 81

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NEW YORK – Comedian Joan Rivers died in a New York hospital Thursday afternoon, a week after suffering cardiac arrest during a medical procedure, her daughter said.

“She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends,” Melissa Rivers said in a written statement.

Rivers, 81, had been on life support at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai hospital, where she was taken after she stopped breathing at the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic last Thursday.

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The outpatient clinic is now being investigated by the New York State Department of Health, spokesman James O’Hara said.

Born Joan Alexandra Molinksy in 1933, the Brooklyn native graduated from Barnard College and worked various odd jobs before breaking into show business.

The entertainer has logged a half-century in show business and is known for often-snarky red carpet commentary.

She cut her comedy chops in New York City clubs, including The Bitter End and The Gaslight Café, at a time when women weren’t stage regulars.

Her website describes Rivers as “the first woman to break the glass ceiling of Late Night Television,” touting her role as the only permanent guest of The Tonight Show for three years in the early 1960s. She went on to start her own talk show, “That Show With Joan Rivers.”

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