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Joan Rivers Dead at 81

NEW YORK - APRIL 27:  Joan Rivers from the film "Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work" attends the Tribeca Film Festival 2010 portrait studio at the FilmMaker Industry Press Center on April 27, 2010 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival) *** Local Caption *** Joan Rivers

Comedian and pop icon Joan Rivers died this afternoon at Mount Sinai Hospital, according to a statement released by her family. She had been hospitalized since last Thursday owing to complications from an outpatient throat surgery and had been on life support earlier this week. She was 81.

Rivers rose to prominence as a guest on The Tonight Show, where she became a stand-up staple following her 1965 debut. By 1983, she was Johnny Carson's permanent guest host, though their relationship fractured after Rivers nabbed her own late-night show in 1986. (Fox canceled The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers after two seasons.) Rivers later hosted a daytime talk show, The Joan Rivers Show, which earned her a Daytime Emmy in 1990. Rivers and her daughter and frequent collaborator Melissa hosted red-carpet specials and pop- and fashion-critique shows on E! starting in 1996, including the current series Fashion Police. Rivers was the author of several books and the subject of the well-received 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Rivers performed her final stand-up show last week.

Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images