Joan Rivers, a pioneering female stand-up comic and talk show host, died September 4th. She was 81.

Rivers was undergoing surgery on her vocal chords in New York City on Aug. 28 when she stopped breathing and was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital. She went into cardiac arrest was put on life support until she passed away on Thursday, Sept. 4.

Born Joan Alexandra Molinsky in 1933, Rivers was the youngest daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. She ignored her family’s opposition and became an actress and comic, performing in the same New York Clubs as Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand.  By the mid 1960s, she was regularly appearing on variety programs like The Ed Sullivan Show. Recently, death came up in a lot of Rivers interviews and jokes while she coped with the losses of friends and family. The night before she was hospitalized, Rivers performed stand up at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City where she joked, “I’m 81, I could go at any moment. I could fall over right here and you all could say, ‘I was there!’”