Comedian, television host and actress Joan Rivers was born to Russian Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, New York. She eventually went on to work in theatre and television including her Daytime Emmy award-winning gig as host of "The Joan Rivers Show."
Rivers graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University's Barnard College in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and anthropology. Before entering show business, she worked as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center in New York City, as a fashion consultant and as a writer at an ad agency.
Rivers realized her love for performing so she began working in theater, including a role as a lesbian opposite a then-unknown Barbara Streisand. From acting, she turned to comedy working the New York City's comedy club circuit for several years before she got her big break in 1965 and made a memorable appears on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."
After her "Carson" appearance, Rivers was an instant hit. In the late 1960's, she landed her own show called "The Joan Rivers Show."
In this Aug. 15, 1989 file photo, Joan Rivers proudly announced the start of her new syndicated talk show, "The Joan Rivers Show," in Los Angeles.
In this Oct. 30, 1986 file photo, talk show host Joan Rivers, right, talks with guest, first lady Nancy Reagan, during her appearance on "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers."
Rivers suffered several setbacks in both her professional and personal life. Her show "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers" was canceled in 1987 and she lost her husband of 22 years, Edgar Rosenberg to suicide the same year.
In this May 16, 1987 file photo shows Rivers, center, with her husband Edger Rosenberg, left and daughter Melissa, during happier times at Fox Broadcasting Studios in Los Angeles in 1987.
Rivers relaunched her career and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990. A few years later, she was nominated for a Tony Award for best actress for her work in "Sally Marr...and Her Escorts."
In 2010, Rivers joined E! News' "Fashion Police" as a co-host alongside Kelly Osbourne (L) Giuliana Rancic, and George Kotsiopoulos.
Rivers paved the way for many female comediennes.
Rivers and her daughter Melissa co-starred in their own reality show, "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?"
Rivers greeted the audience at the "Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers" in Los Angeles in 2009.
The comedienne was known for her bold opinions, never shying away from speaking her mind.
Rivers has penned 12 books including several memoirs. She hosted a regular YouTube series called "In Bed With Joan."
A look back at the life of comedian Joan Rivers.