Joan Rivers was a brash, raspy-voiced blond whose one-liners and self-deprecating humor have made her an institution as a television comedian and talk-show host.
Strongly influenced by Phyllis Diller, Rivers rose to prominence in the 1960s as one of only a few nationally known female comics. She appeared nearly 100 times on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson and in the mid-1980s had her own late-night program, "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers." More recently, Rivers and her adult daughter, Melissa, gained attention for their snarky commentary on celebrity fashions at Hollywood awards shows.
The sharp-tongued Rivers often makes light of herself and her numerous plastic surgeries, exclaiming in mock horror in one television commercial, "I can't feel my face!" Another typical one-liner was, "I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes — and six months later you have to start all over again."
A lifelong New Yorker, Rivers was born in Brooklyn — as Joan Molinsky — in 1933, and got her start performing in Greenwich Village comedy clubs. One of her earliest TV jobs was for "Candid Camera," writing gags and sometimes luring people into embarrassing situations while hidden cameras filmed them. Rivers suffered through a dark period in the mid-1980s, when her show was canceled and her husband, Edgar Rosenberg, killed himself.
In her book "Bouncing Duplicitous," she wrote of considering suicide herself before counseling and family support helped her to recover. She has also written a bestselling humor book, the mock memoir "The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz."