Joan Rivers, comedy trailblazer and longtime member of the E! family, passed away on September 4, 2014 at the age of 81 following complications from a throat operation.
Her daughter Melissa Rivers released a statement that read, in part: "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 first became a household name after landing in the spotlight in 1965 during a guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The duo's chemistry was so palpable that she was named the permanent guest host in 1983.
Then in 1986, she began the rival program The Late Show which sparked a highly publicized rift between the two late-night talk show hosts.
Rivers broke boundaries and gender roles and quickly became famous for her outspoken—and often times controversial—no-holds-barred approach.
In 1994, both Joan and Melissa hosted the E! pre-show awards for the Golden Globes which quickly became an absolute sensation. One year later, the two co-hosted E!'s red carpet coverage of the Academy Awards and cemented their roles as fixtures on the awards season scene.
After briefly leaving the network for a stint at TV Guide, Joan made her return to E! where she began hosting Fashion Police alongside Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne and George Kotsiopoulos in 2010.
That same year, she appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman where she brought her late husband Edgar Rosenberg's ashes on set and sprinkled them onstage, quipping, "We were banned for so long so I like to say, 'Look we're back!'"
Many of today's comedians—female or otherwise—have come forward to credit Joan for inspiring them to go after their dreams, including Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer and many more.
But it seems that Joan herself was never quite fond of the being called a legend or pioneer.
"It upsets me to say I'm a pioneer because I'm so current now," she once explained. "I don't like when the ladies come up and say, 'Oh, you broke barriers for women.' I'm still breaking barriers…and I can still take you sweetheart with both hands tied behind my back. You asked me am I proud to be a pioneer? I'm not a pioneer. I'm still in the trenches, I'm still breaking ground."
Joan is survived by her daughter and grandson.
In addition to her extensive work in show business, she's also advocated tirelessly on behalf of several organizations such as The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Wounded Warriors, God's Love We Deliver, Guide Dogs for the Blind and GLAAD.
Melissa Rivers and Cooper on Joan Rivers' Influence
The late comedienne's family reveals how her charitable work with God's Love We Deliver is still inspiring others at the opening of The Joan Rivers Bakery.