Joan Rivers passes away 'peacefully' at age 81 'surrounded by family and close friends'

Fans are mourning the loss of Joan Rivers, who passed away peacefully on Thursday, Sept. 4 at age 81, surrounded by friends and family.

The comedian’s daughter Melissa Rivers confirmed the news in a statement, while also thanking the public for their "outpouring of love, support and prayers.”

Joan had been on life support for almost a week at Mount Sinai hospital, after she stopped breathing and suffered a cardiac arrest during surgery on her vocal chords at a nearby private clinic.

In a statement, her daughter Melissa Rivers said: "It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers.

"She passed peacefully at 1:17 pm 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.

"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."

On Sunday, doctors began the process of lifting Joan out of a medically-induced coma . Melissa had been keeping a vigil by her mother's bedside.

She had been moved out of intensive care and taken off life support on Thursday morning, where she was "kept comfortable" in a private room in hospital.

Joan is well known for her acerbic wit, often on display when she critiques the red carpet's worst dressed celebrities hosting Fashion Police.

An actress, writer, producer and TV host, Joan's career began in the late 1950s. She starred in several plays in New York and by the 1960s, she had featured with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

Over the following decades she began to make a name for herself and by the 1980s had become a regular on The Tonight Show, where she honed her particular style of comedy, which involved poking fun at celebrities and also herself.

She later began a rival show to The Tonight Show, leaving her friendship with Johnny Carson in ruins, and in 1989 won her first Emmy for The Joan Rivers Show.

She was married twice, and during her second marriage, fell pregnant with her only child, daughter Melissa.

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