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Joan Rivers, An Icon's Life In Photos

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"I succeed by saying what everyone else is thinking," Joan Rivers once said, and succeed she did.

The comedy legend was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933 and got her start in show business in the late 1950s performing in theater gigs and comedy shows in downtown Manhattan. She joined "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson in 1965 as a gag writer and her career in television took off from there. She was a red carpet staple by the 1990s and became famous for her shrewd and unapologetic coverage of celebrity news on the E! Network.

From Hollywood red carpets to center stage, from no-holds-barred stand-up gigs to her own reality series, Rivers did it all. She was a pioneer in the industry, pushing down boundaries ahead of her one dirty joke at a time. Still, the label didn't necessarily work for her.

"I don't like when the ladies come up and say, 'Oh you broke barriers for women,'" she said during a 2012 PBS interview. "I'm still breaking barriers, that's starting with it, and I could still take you, sweetheart, with both hands tied behind my back ... Am I proud to be a pioneer? I'm not a pioneer. I'm still in the trenches. I'm still breaking ground. I have never spent two minutes saying, 'Well, I just did that.' I'm still looking for the new frontier. I'm still in my astronaut suit."

  • 1965
    GAB Archive via Getty Images
    Circa 1965 (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
  • 1966
    CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images
    American talk show host Ed Sullivan puts his arm around Joan Rivers as they chat on "The Ed Sullivan Show," New York, New York, September 11, 1966. (CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
  • 1967
    Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers poses for a portrait circa 1967 in New York City, New York. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
  • 1968
    NBC via Getty Images
    Ed McMahon and Joan Rivers (NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
  • 1969
    Ron Galella via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers attends the premiere party for "Hello, Dolly!" on December 16, 1969 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. (Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
  • 1970
    I C Rapoport via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers with daughter Melissa at home in November 1970 in New York City, New York. (I.C. Rapoport/Getty Images)
  • 1970
    I C Rapoport via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers with Melissa at home in November 1970. (I.C. Rapoport/Getty Images)
  • 1972
    NBC via Getty Images
    Producer Edgar Rosenberg and Joan Rivers during the "Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" 10th Anniversary party on September 30, 1972. (NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
  • 1974
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Tom Jones, center, blows out candles at a surprise birthday party at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, June 6, 1974. Guests include, from left to right, Joan Rivers, Sonny Bono, Jones, Debbie Reynolds, and Liberace. (AP Photo)
  • 1976
    NBC via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers on "The Tonight Show" in 1976. (Ron Tom/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
  • 1980
    Ron Galella via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers and Show Girls during "Best of Vegas" Awards at Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. (Ron Galella/WireImage)
  • 1981
    NBC via Getty Images
    Comedian Mark Russell, musical guest Tony Orlando, fitness expert Richard Simmons and Joan Rivers (Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
  • 1983
    NBC via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers portrays Elizabeth Taylor during the 'Calvin Klein Jeans' skit on "Saturday Night Live" on April 9, 1983. (Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)
  • 1984
    Ron Galella via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers at Elaine's Restaurant in New York City in 1984. (Ron Galella/WireImage)
  • 1985
    Harry Langdon via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers poses for a portrait in 1985 in Los Angeles, California. (Harry Langdon/Getty Images)
  • 1986
    NBC via Getty Images
    Betty White during an interview with guest host Joan Rivers on "The Tonight Show" on January 27, 1986. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
  • 1988
    Ron Galella via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers and Dolly Parton during Sandy Gallin's Christmas Party in 1988 in Beverly Hills. (Ron Galella/WireImage)
  • 1990
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Talk show host Joan Rivers is applauded by fans after winning her first Emmy as best talk show host on June 28, 1990. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
  • 1993
    Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers during the 9th Annual Rita Hayworth Gala Honors Edgar Bronfman Jr. at Tavern on the Green in New York City. (Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
  • 1994
    Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images
    Raquel Welch and Joan Rivers attend the "Sally Marr ... and her escorts" Broadway performance on April 22, 1994 at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York City. (Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
  • 1996
    Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California (Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
  • 1999
    Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers during the 51st Annual Emmy Awards. (Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
  • 2001
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Joan Rivers of E! welcomes back the red carpet before the start of the 53rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shubert Theatre on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2001, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kim D. Johnson)
  • 2003
    Albert L. Ortega via Getty Images
    Joan and Melissa Rivers during the 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in 2003. (Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
  • 2004
    Ethan Miller via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers performs at the Stardust Resort & Casino June 26, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
  • 2006
    KMazur via Getty Images
    Melissa Rivers and Joan Rivers during the 78th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood. (KMazur/WireImage)
  • 2008
    Chris Jackson via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers gestures during a photocall for her play "A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress" at the Leicester Square Theatre on September 2, 2008 in London. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
  • 2009
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Roastee Joan Rivers laughs at the "Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers" in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)
  • 2011
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Joan Rivers is seen on stage at the 16th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
  • 2012
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa Rivers attend an E! Network upfront event at Gotham Hall on Monday, April 30, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
  • 2012
    Christie Goodwin via Getty Images
    Joan Rivers performs on stage as part of the The Prince's Trust comedy gala "We Are Most Amused" at Royal Albert Hall on November 28, 2012 in London. (Christie Goodwin/Getty Images)
  • 2014
    Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
    Joan Rivers attends "Howard Stern's Birthday Bash," presented by SiriusXM at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

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