Comedian and entertainer Joan Rivers dies at 81

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Comedian and entertainer Joan Rivers died on Thursday at the age of 81.

"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," her daughter Melissa said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the family confirmed she was on life support at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan after going into cardiac arrest last Thursday. She died one week later in the hospital at 1:17 p.m. ET, the family said in a statement.

The New York state Department of Health says it is investigating her death and that its investigators have already visited the endoscopy center where Rivers underwent the initial surgery.

Joan Rivers dead at age 81

The comic and red-carpet commentator maintained a busy career as host of "Fashion Police" on the E! network and, with her daughter, a co-star of the WEtv reality show, "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?"

She was born Joan Molinsky in Brooklyn to Russian immigrants doctor Meyer Molinsky and Beatrice. After graduating from Barnard College in 1954, she worked as a department store fashion coordinator before turning to comedy clubs, making her big break on "The Tonight Show" in 1965.

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By CNBC. The Associated Press contributed to this report.