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Comedian, Lifelong New Yorker Joan Rivers Dies at 81

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New Yorkers are mourning the loss of Brooklyn-born comedian Joan Rivers who died Thursday at age 81.

In a statement, Rivers' daughter Melissa confirmed she passed away at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends.

She went on to say, "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."

Rivers became ill while undergoing an outpatient procedure at an Upper East Side clinic last week.

Her family on Wednesday confirmed she had been moved from Mount Sinai's intensive care unit into a private room, where she was kept comfortable.

The State Health Department is now looking into what caused the "Fashion Police" host to go into cardiac arrest.

Fans were leaving flowers at Rivers' Upper East Side apartment Thursday evening.

Rivers was arguably the most famous female comedian of all time, known the world over as the groundbreaking funny lady with the big mouth to match her oversized talents.

Rivers made the rounds of the New York City nightclubs before catapulting to fame with her first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1965.

She was the permanent guest host of "The Tonight Show" for three years, and later, she had "The Late Show with Joan Rivers." That created a permanent rift between her and her mentor, the late Johnny Carson, which continued to be talked about, even to this day.

But Joan always came back from disappointments and controversies, including the suicide of her husband Edgar Rosenberg back in 1987.

Rivers found success in the limelight and countless corners of the entertainment business.

She was an Emmy-award winning television talk show host, Tony award nominated actress, bestselling author, columnist, lecturer, syndicated radio host and jewelry designer.

On top of all that, Rivers completely re-invented TV red carpet coverage and fashion analysis with her pre-awards commentaries and weekly E! network television show, "Fashion Police," adding insults and a sense of humor to the genre.

In 2009, Rivers starred in the second season of NBC's hit reality TV competition series "The Celebrity Apprentice." Perhaps not surprisingly, she won.

Most recently, she was keeping busy with her reality show "Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best" with her daughter Melissa, where more often than not, she made fun of herself, including her age and her well-publicized facelifts.

She was unapologetically bawdy and made fun of her fellow celebrities, but she was adored by her fans, and she loved them back.

Throughout her long career, Rivers continued to perform standup and do what she did best - making people laugh.

While she was best known for her comedy, Rivers also spent many years doing charitable work for "God's Love We Deliver."

She spent 25 years with the nonprofit, including the last 20 as a member of the board of directors.

The organization provide meals to people in the tri-state area who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves.

Others who work there said Rivers was always willing to do whatever it took to help others in need.

"She did everything. She was one of our best ambassadors, of course," said Karen Pearl, president and CEO of God's Love We Deliver. "She worked in our kitchen. She delivered to clients. She showed up at events. She cheered on our runners at our race to deliver. She did whatever it is that God's Love needed. We could count on Joan to be there."

"Joan sort of brought light to sort of everything that she did, but especially at God's Love, and to bring that light when delivering to a client is really important," said Emmett Findley, manager of communications at God's Love We Deliver.

God's Love We Deliver said it'll name a bakery in their new facility after Rivers.

If you'd like to make a donation, you can visit their web site at glwd.org.

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