MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Comic legend Joan Rivers has died in New York a week after going into
cardiac arrest during surgery on her vocal cords.
Raucous, blunt and deliberately vulgar, the 81 year old first rose to fame as a stand up comedian and TV host, opening up the comedy arena to women before becoming a regular in her later years on reality television as a celebrity-bashing fashion pundit.
North America correspondent Jane Cowan reports.
ANNOUNCER: Here's Joan Rivers! (Cheering and music)
JANE COWAN: She was the kind of comedian who made other comics laugh heartily.
JOAN RIVERS: Last night I said to my husband: what's your favourite sexual position? He said next door (laughter).
JANE COWAN: For Joan Rivers, nothing was off limits and she was equally willing to turn her biting wit on herself.
JOAN RIVERS: I had tried everything because I'm married now 14 years, I mean at that point you have to, like you know, think of things to do. I bought the book the Joy of Sex, okay, and I got, did you read that chapter 11 where you wrap yourself up totally in Saran wrap? Oh yeah, right. And I laid on the dining room table and my husband came home, he says "leftovers again?"
Because you know what it is, because we're not well suited for each other.
JANE COWAN: Born in Brooklyn, Joan Rivers originally wanted to be an actress but fell into stand up comedy to make some money on the side.
A job writing sketches for the Ed Sullivan Show led to a big break on the Johnny Carson Show in 1965.
JOHNNY CARSON: Don't you think men really like intelligence more when it comes right down to it?
JOAN RIVERS: Oh, please. Are we going to go back to that? Are you kidding?
JOHNNY CARSON: No, sure, I mean it's the brain, you know, a caring person.
JOAN RIVERS: No man has ever put his hands up a woman's dress looking for a library card.
JANE COWAN: Joan Rivers pioneered the art of the red carpet interview and most recently starred in a cable TV show focussed on making fun of celebrity fashion disasters.
JOAN RIVERS: I love Rihanna, I think she can do no wrong, but I have not seen lips that green since Miss Piggy got out of the back seat of Kermit's car.
JANE COWAN: She wasn't without her dark times, losing her husband to suicide and admitting once sitting with a gun in her lap herself.
Throughout her life though she used adversity to hone her comedy. Last year when her sister died, Rivers told of cracking jokes in the funeral home. She was never afraid to turn life's realities into laughs.
JOAN RIVERS: If I think I want to talk about it, then it's right to talk about and I purposely go into areas that people are still very sensitive and smarting about.
JOAN RIVERS: If you laugh at it, you can deal with it. That's how I've lived my whole life. If I swear to you, I'm Jewish, I will in Auschwitz I would have been doing jokes just to make it okay for us.
JANE COWAN: For all her acid-tongued wit, in 2011 Joan Rivers showed a softer side in an interview with funny man Louis CK.
JOAN RIVERS: What we do is a calling, my dear. We make people happy, it's a calling.