Joan Rivers Has Tragically Died After Being Taken Off Life Support

Joan Rivers in New York City May 2014A week after going into cardiac arrest during surgery, we regret to inform you that Joan Rivers tragically died today after being taken off life support.

On August 28th, Joan checked into Yorkville Endoscopy on East 93rd Street in New York, to undergo a routine procedure on her throat. Midway through, she stopped breathing, and went into cardiac arrest, at which point she was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and place in a medically-induced coma. When it became clear that she would not come out of the coma or be able to breathe on her own, Joan was placed on life support and moved to a private room in palliative care, so that her friends and family could visit her in peace.

Having provided that small consolation, Joan’s daughter Melissa made the decision to take her mother off life support today, at which point Joan passed away at age eighty-one. Here is Melissa’s statement:

“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.”

Oh man. Just so so sad. Whether you were a fan of Joan’s particular brand of comedy or not, the most wonderful thing about Joan is that she didn’t care one way or the other. She was who she was, and defiantly refused to be cowed by what society expected of her. She kept talking long past people found her desirable, and I can’t think of a better way to honor her than by bringing that idea into my own life.

Thank you, Joan, and goodbye.

(Photo: Alberto Reyes /

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    • Elizabeth Aspen

      Well, I wouldn’t call it tragic. She was in her 80′s and she led a full life with a lot of wealth – the tragic part is she also lived with a lot of self-loathing that she projected on to a lot of innocent people. I just hope she has some peace now, and as I believe firmly in the ‘life review’ on the other side, I think she’s probably watching a film of herself right now that probably won’t be easy to handle. I believe we all experience the pain we caused others in this life when we pass over, and I hope she sees the wrong in a lot of what she did and said to others while here. That said, I was always a huge Joan Rivers fan back in the days when only she was the butt of her jokes, and not others who had no power.

      • Alikay

        Who exactly did she make fun of who “had no power”? The exorbitantly wealthy celebrities who had plenty of platform to retaliate?

      • Elizabeth Aspen

        Oh, let’s see – how about the Cleveland kidnapping victims, and how about the Palestinian children she said deserved to die, and how about calling certain celebrities children ugly, and how about the non-wealthy celebrities who are just battling addictions of all kinds?

      • Nbl

        The last few years of Carlin’s life he was a very angry man. He went from poignant to mean. Example “I’d like to begin by saying, fuck Lance Armstrong. Fuck him and his balls and his bicycles and his steroids and his yellow shirts and the dumb, empty expression on his face. I’m tired of that asshole. And while you’re at it, fuck Tiger Woods, too. There’s another jackoff I can do without.” Oh and he was called the original bully. Like Joan he said what was on his mind and didn’t care what others thought. Take two seconds to google Joan’s early career and how she was treated by the males in her field. If Carol fucking Burnett says she owes her career to Ms. Rivers then clearly she did something right. If Joan is looking at her life right now, then she shouldn’t be feeling pain. She should be proud of the life she has lead and the leaps foreword she pioneered for female comedians and comedic writers. She worked her ass off until the day she died and brought a lot of people laughter. By the way aren’t you that person who told everyone to stop being so PC about culture appropriation?

      • Mystik Spiral

        Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods were quite deserving though, no?

        I wasn’t always a fan of Joan’s comedy, but she was a trailblazer in field where women today STILL struggle greatly. For that, I respect her. RIP.

      • Elizabeth Aspen

        Way to segue – what ‘cultural appropriation’ has to do with this is beyond me (eye roll). FAIL.

        Joan was a pioneer for women? I’ll give you that. But she started out making herself the only victim of her comedy, and then turned her self-loathing and anger on the rest of the world for a cheap laugh. Sorry, but I don’t have respect for that kind of shit. There was no need for her to stoop that low to make it in the business or stay relevant. Carlin’s anger was directed at the right people and for the right actions – Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong deserved to be called out for being dickheads. Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and the children of Palestine did ZERO to deserve some angry old lady ridiculing the horror they went through. Neither did Adele deserve to be called fat by Joan Rivers and a baby like North West doesn’t deserve to be publicly called ugly, either, and the list of her victims goes on and on. And as for her working her ass off, she did it to stay extremely wealthy so she could afford to parade around in more dead animal skins. Don’t make her out to be some kind of goddess.

      • Nbl

        “I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.” George Carlin.

        Also his remarks about Armstrong were made in 2008 before any controversy.

      • fantasymother

        Elizabeth, I made exactly this comment to someone recently, before the medical mistake that brought her and us to this.

        I’m old enough to remember Joan on Ed Sullivan. I’m old enough to remember how she made herself the target of her humor, and by laughing at what she said she made all of us laugh at ourselves. I might have been a child but I learned how much children can be hurt by the offhand comments of parents, and hoped my parents would learn from her, because they did to me what had been done to her.

        She offered it as a joke and hoped we all learned from it.

        But that changed, and suddenly the target was everyone else, and just as suddenly it wasn’t quite all that funny any longer. Joan became what she complained about when she was younger.

        Joan turned into her mother, and didn’t see it… nor would she permit anyone to point it out.

      • Nbl

        If you remember her from long ago then may I ask you this, when did she start lashing out at others? Was it around the time Johnny Carson screwed her over? When the comedy industry was trying to blackball her? When her husband took his own life? Did she start lashing out at others when people stopped laughing with her and started stepping on her? How long would you last before you started fighting back? If we’ve learned anything from a Robin Williams and other comedians, it’s that those who make us laugh the hardest are those who are often crying the hardest in private. Joan was a fighter and she kept going. Maybe not in the way you liked but her brand of humor helped her cope and made a lot of people laugh.

      • fantasymother

        I can feel terrible that all this happened to her, but to be honest, at 60 years old my life hasn’t been a bed of roses, either. I hope adversity didn’t mean I started to turn on others, or become what I’d earlier condemned.

        I adored George Carlin, but didn’t like the angry old man quite as much. However, he didn’t condemn people for their weight, or how they dressed. Joan’s early humor was specifically centered on how this type of shaming was done to her by her parents and other relatives. Does wealth and fame or adversity mean it’s now okay to become what you earlier condemned?

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Well said.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        I think for me it’s less about the content of her jokes and more about her refusal to be silenced. That’s what I’m taking from all this, because I absolutely agree, there are many many jokes of hers where I was like Joannnnnn nooooooo. But I respect her as a working comedian, beyond words.

      • Napoleon

        If we take your argument on face value then one could admire Hitler’s oratory and leadership skills while conveniently ignoring the context of his messages.

      • M_G

        That’s some mighty flawed logic you’re using there. Alexis isn’t ignoring the fact that Joan’s humor wasn’t without its pitfalls. The work and impact Joan had in no way resembles that of Hitler, and personally, I think your comparison is disgusting.

      • Napoleon

        My comment in no way compared Joan Rivers to Hitler. Emotional appeals do not win debates. I suggest you reread my original statement so that you can understand that I was acknowledging that admiring one’s talents is not exclusively to people who are agreeable to your ideals.

      • M_G

        ….yeah, I may have jumped the gun on that one. But I stand by the first part of my response. It reads like you’re accusing Alexis of ignoring the negative aspects of Joan Rivers’ personality, and by her own comment, that isn’t true. You obviously didn’t care for Joan Rivers, so you’ll remember her in a different light than Alexis, and so you have done the opposite in your comments: highlighting the negative while downplaying the positive.

      • Napoleon

        Fair enough. My original comment was made in haste and for that I apologize. Alexis was not ignoring the negative aspects of Joan’s career and my suggestion of the opposite was unwarranted. Joan Rivers initially did some great things for her career but success from and individual level should not imply success for all. Joan Rivers is a “comedic” icon not a feminist one. Her comedic routines constantly berated and demeaned other women not to mention countless other celebrities. I find her comedy to be not much higher quality than a schoolyard bully. Personal attacks is not a respectable form of comedy. It’s a hateful tactic used to hurt others and promote negativity. How that is empowering to anyone expect Joan is something I will never understand.

      • kitty

        What I always wondered is why did Joan get paid so well, or paid at all for being so discouraging and nasty ? Her jokes were not funny at all, none of them. What kind of a crowd did she appeal to ?

      • Napoleon

        She appealed to people who find enjoyment in the belittlement and degradation of others.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Right, but the fact that he WAS in fact a good orator doesn’t overshadow the fact that he was a monster, just like the fact that he was a monster doesn’t overshadow the fact that he was a good orator. You can dislike, hate, or fear someone and still notice that person’s strengths and weaknesses.

        I know you and M_G took this conversation in a different direction, but I wanted to respond to this. Me answering here doesn’t mean that I think Joan Rivers and Hitler had anything at all in common.

    • rockmonster


      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Agreed. Heavy boots.

    • Napoleon

      There’s a difference between comedy and malice. She happened to promote the latter. It’s tragic that her family has to deal with her passing.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Agree to disagree. I didn’t always think she was funny, and she certainly wasn’t politically correct, but she didn’t let anyone’s criticism stop her, which is remarkable in a woman. I could stand to learn a thing or two from her, for sure.

      • Nbl

        A lot of people can. In her early career she was the epitome of a feminist.

      • Napoleon

        Ignorance and bias towards ones own opinion is a remarkable feat? Delusion and narcissism possess many of the same qualities.

      • Elizabeth Aspen

        You know, maybe once in a while when someone is criticized for their words, perhaps the correct reaction WOULD be to stop and think about what they say – male OR female. I can respect a woman like Anita Hill or Hillary Clinton not shutting up because of what they stand for – not for the right to say whatever shithead thing comes to one’s mind at any moment. Last week, a man I admire, Henry Rollins, wrote a despicable essay about Robin Williams being a coward and an awful father for committing suicide. The next day, he wrote another essay apologizing profusely for what he said because it had been pointed out to him how hurtful his words were to so many people. If Joan had just once said, ‘you know what? I said the wrong thing, I hurt someone’s feelings and I’m a better person than that’, I would have more respect for her. But she didn’t, so I don’t.

      • Nbl

        She did apologize and clarify the quotes about Palenstine.

    • Cassandra Hough

      Well said, and I completely agree.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Thanks Cassy!

    • Nbl

      I don’t know if it’s because a lot of people are too young to remember by it seems like she’s being judged as a person by the last few years of her life. Joan was hysterical when her career started and was dealt several tragedies at the peak of her career. Events that would send a weaker soul into hiding. She persevered and built a very successful career. While I didn’t always agree with what she said, I admired that fact that she was still saying it. That age and criticism never stopped her. I know several people who have met her in person. Every single one of them has said that she is a very sweet and sincere person when she’s not “on”. My heart goes out to her daughter and grandson. I’m sure her and Robin are cracking heaven up right now.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Absolutely agreed.

      • Elizabeth Aspen

        I did mention in my previous post that I was a huge fan of Joan’s at the start of her career (and I’m in my 40′s). I was turned on to Joan by my mother because they are lookalikes (pre-plastic surgery). I always thought she was funny and I always liked the fact that she could laugh at herself. I think seeing a woman be able to do that made every ugly-duckling little girl feel like she didn’t have to worry about what the world thought of her looks. So I give Joan that. And if she would have stayed the course and kept herself her only victim, I would have stayed a fan.

        Part of the problem with ‘feminism’ today is that it will take any horrible person with tits and a vag and hold her up as a feminist icon. Joan’s brand of feminism brought more women down than held them up, simply because she felt a need to constantly tear her fellow women apart with her words.

        And I have another point to make about that – why are you all celebrating Joan as a feminist icon, despite her viciousness towards other women, but when it comes to what Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman and all those other dummies have to say about women, you DON’T stick up for them?

      • capoupascap

        Damn I don’t always agree with your comments but I am 100% digging your comments about Joan Rivers. Spot on.

      • Elizabeth Aspen

        I know, i’m like that with Howard Stern – it’s an inner struggle. I’m a bitter, nasty-tasting pill sometimes – other times, I’m ice cream after a tonsillectomy.

      • guest

        You should get your meds adjusted.

      • Elizabeth Aspen

        And you should learn to live in the real world.

      • NYCNanny

        Thank you!!! Last comment. Thank you.
        Just because a woman is a woman, doesn’t make her good or a embody or someone worthy of our admiration and respect.

    • Jammyj

      I might sound harsh when I say this but karma got her good. She was a vile woman and I have no sympathy for her. Especially after her Palestine comment.

    • T_T ☺

      I would never pull any family member off life support..despite all the life insurance money in the world i would get in doing so.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Everyone’s decision is different, and especially at her age and with the frequency with which Joan went under the knife, it’s likely that she had a DNR, or had left some instructions as to what should be done if she were ever placed on life support.

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    • L.M.S.

      No one made me laugh quite as hard as Joan did.

    • Deb

      I love Joan Rivers- a strong woman! I feel really bad for Melissa- my heart goes out to her, and all Joan’s family and friends.

    • kitty

      She sure didn’t have much compassion for people, not a very loving person for some reason. Can’t figure out why she had to be so bitter and insulting just to get by in life.

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    • LisaDe

      Probably roasting in hell with Ariel Castro. hahaha good riddance.

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