Sharp-Tongued Comedian Joan Rivers Dies At 81 Comedian Joan Rivers kept audiences laughing through a 50-year career that included bankruptcy, getting banned from The Tonight Show and mourning her husband's suicide.
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Sharp-Tongued Comedian Joan Rivers Dies At 81

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Sharp-Tongued Comedian Joan Rivers Dies At 81

Sharp-Tongued Comedian Joan Rivers Dies At 81

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/345997393/345997394" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Joan Rivers died yesterday. She was brash and outspoken, often offended people but never held back.

DON GONYEA, HOST:

The trailblazing comedian got her start on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," where she was a frequent guest host and established her signature catchphrase.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON")

JOAN RIVERS: Can we talk?

GONYEA: Rivers always defended using comedy to tackle tough topics. She took on sexism, even as the women's rights movement was just coming into its own. And she never shied away from making herself the butt of the joke.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RIVERS: I bought the book "The Joy Of Sex," OK? And I got - did you read that chapter 11? - where you wrap yourself up totally in Saran Wrap?

(LAUGHTER)

RIVERS: Oh, yeah, great. And I lay down on the dining room table. And my husband came home, and he says, leftovers again?

(LAUGHTER)

RIVERS: Oh, you don't know.

GREENE: Then there was the red carpet, where Rivers coined the phrase, who are you wearing? Her own appearance, of course, evolved over time.

GONYEA: In June, she told Weekend Edition's Scott Simon how she became the plastic surgery poster girl.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

RIVERS: I had a friend who was a plastic surgeon, so he would do little things. I never had, like, a full thing. So I would go in maybe once every two or three years, and he'd do a little here, a little there - tweaking, like you tweak a car.

GONYEA: Rivers never slowed down. Up until the end, she had a weekly TV series, a web show, was still performing stand-up and promoting her latest book. Joan Rivers was 81. This is NPR News.

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