Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers has died after suffering caridac arrest.

Joan Rivers has died aged 81.

Her daughter Melissa Rivers confirmed the news, issuing a statement.

She said: "It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers.

"She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother."

Melissa Rivers added that she and her son, Cooper, who is Joan Rivers' grandson, "have found ourselves humbled by the outpouring of love, support and prayers we have received from around the world.

"They have been heard and appreciated. 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."

The Fashion Police host stopped breathing during minor throat surgery on her vocal chords at a New York City medical facility last Thursday.

She was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered cardiac arrest and a subsequent stroke.

She was placed on life support, and her family were called upon to make the decision to switch off the machine.

Rivers, who changed her name from "Joan Molinsky" when she entered show business, began her acting career in a play opposite Barbra Streisand before appearing on "Candid Camera."

In 1965, the future talk show host made her first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show."

"When I started out, a pretty girl did not go into comedy. If you saw a pretty girl walk into a nightclub, she was automatically a singer. Comedy was all white, older men," Rivers wrote in 2012. "I didn't even want to be a comedian. Nobody wanted to be a comedian!"

joan rivers and her daughter Melissa
File photo of Joan Rivers (L) and her daughter Melissa, fashion commentators for E! Entertainment television, at an awards show in Los Angeles in September of 2003.REUTERS/Mike Blake/FILE RG

Carson became a mentor to Rivers, and eventually, in 1983, she became his permanent guest host. However, in 1986, she left to host her own competing show on Fox, "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers," though it only lasted a year.

However, she suffered personal tragedy when her second husband, Edgar Rosenberg, the father of her only child, her daughter, Melissa, committed suicide the same year she was fired from the show. At the time, she admitted she too had considered taking her own life.

"I was a pariah. I wasn't invited anywhere. I was a non-person. At one point, I thought, 'What's the point? This is stupid. What saved me was my dog jumped into my lap. I thought, 'No one will take care of him.' ... I had the gun in my lap, and the dog sat on the gun. I lecture on suicide because things turn around.

"I tell people this is a horrible, awful dark moment, but it will change and you must know it's going to change and you push forward. I look back and think, 'Life is great, life goes on. It changes.'"