Skip to main content

Joan Rivers autopsy inconclusive, medical examiner's office says

By Alan Duke and Jason Hanna, CNN
updated 6:54 PM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
Comedian Joan Rivers died Thursday, September 4, a week after suffering cardiac arrest during a medical procedure, her daughter said. She was 81. Click through the gallery to look back at her career. Comedian Joan Rivers died Thursday, September 4, a week after suffering cardiac arrest during a medical procedure, her daughter said. She was 81. Click through the gallery to look back at her career.
HIDE CAPTION
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
Joan Rivers through the years
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Further studies needed to determine cause, manner of death
  • Rivers, 81, was undergoing a procedure at clinic; she suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest
  • Rivers had been on life support at Manhattan's Mount Sinai hospital

(CNN) -- An autopsy on comedian Joan Rivers has been completed, but more studies will be needed to determine the cause and manner of her death, New York City medical examiner's office spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said Friday.

Rivers, 81, died in a New York hospital Thursday afternoon, a week after suffering cardiac arrest during a medical procedure, her daughter said.

Rivers had been on life support at Manhattan's Mount Sinai hospital, where she was taken after she stopped breathing at the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic on August 28.

Rivers' endoscopy clinic in the spotlight
Joan Rivers' 'Tonight Show' legacy
Joan Rivers: Memorable moments
Kathy Griffin: Respect must be paid

Joan Rivers: A pointed, pioneering comedian

Rivers was undergoing an apparently minor elective procedure at the clinic when she suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest, according to the New York Fire Department.

Paramedics took her by ambulance to Mount Sinai Hospital, about a mile from the clinic, where she was initially listed in critical condition.

The outpatient clinic is now being investigated by the New York State Department of Health, spokesman James O'Hara said.

Joan Rivers: In her own words

No criminal investigations are currently under way in Rivers' death, according to several New York law enforcement officials. The state health department is investigating whether there was any malpractice by the doctors and their staff, the same officials said.

The Rivers family made very little information about her medical condition public, finally confirming Tuesday that she was on life support.

"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," her daughter said. "Cooper and I 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.'

Melissa Rivers and her son Cooper have spent the past week by Rivers' hospital bedside, rushing there last Thursday when they learned of her illness.

"My mother's greatest joy in life was to make people laugh," Melissa Rivers said. "Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon."

Share your memories

Ripa on Rivers: Heaven just got funnier
2010: Joan Rivers on being a comedian
2010: Joan Rivers: Performing like a drug
Joan Rivers: In her own words
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
Joan Rivers: In her own words Joan Rivers: In her own words

The clinic has not responded to repeated calls from CNN about the state's investigation.

Yorkville Endoscopy's website says it is an "ambulatory surgical center" that has been "approved by the Department of Health." The description of its accreditations is blank.

"Yorkville Endoscopy is a state of the art facility, staffed by highly experienced endoscopists whose mission is to provide safe and compassionate care to patients and their families," the website says.

Tributes from Joan's friends

The funeral for Rivers will be at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan on Sunday, according to temple spokeswoman Elizabeth Fezrine. Details, including the time and if the public will be allowed to attend, are not yet known, she said.

Tributes to Rivers and her long career included one from former first lady Nancy Reagan, whose close circle of friends included Rivers.

"Joan Rivers was not only a dear friend, but one of the kindest and funniest people I ever knew," Reagan said. "I doubt there's anyone who hasn't laughed at her or with her until they cried. Today our tears are those of sadness. I know I join millions in saying, 'Thanks for the good times Joan, we will truly miss you.' My love and deepest sympathy go to Melissa and Cooper."

Former CNN host Larry King knew Rivers for 45 years. "She knew no boundaries," King said. "Everything was funny to her. You couldn't really object because she took no prisoners."

Hollywood mourns a friend

Donald Trump, who chose her as the winner on a season of "Celebrity Apprentice," said Rivers "was stronger at the end than she was at the beginning. She had unbelievable stamina."

Ryan Seacrest, who worked with her on E! shows, called Rivers "a trailblazer in so many ways."

Liza Minnelli said Rivers was "my dear friend."

"I will miss her but I will always remember the laughter and friendship she brought into my life," Minnelli said.

Opinion: Joan Rivers gave misfit girls permission to dream

E! and NBCUniversal, producers of Rivers' TV show "Fashion Police," sent condolences to her family on "this incredibly sad day."

"For decades Joan has made people laugh, shattered glass ceilings and revolutionized comedy," the studio said.

"She was unapologetic and fiercely dedicated to entertaining all of us and has left an indelible mark on the people that worked with her and on her legions of fans.  She's been a much beloved member of the E! family for over 20 years and the world is less funny without her in it.  Today our hearts are heavy knowing Joan will not be bounding through the doors."

What Joan Rivers wanted at her funeral

People we've lost in 2014

See more about the people of comedy at CNN Comedy.

CNN's Marisa Marcellino, Susan Candiotti and Joan Yeam contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Joan Rivers remembered
updated 10:26 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
Joan Rivers, the sassy comedian whose gossipy "can we talk" persona catapulted her into a career as a talk-show host, author and red-carpet maven, has died.
updated 6:54 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
From red carpets to roasts to late night TV, Joan Rivers has graced the many great stages of comedy.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
Brian Stelter and Entertainment Tonight's Nancy O'Dell look at Joan Rivers' groundbreaking career.
updated 3:26 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
A look back at Joan Rivers through some of her more memorable quotes.
updated 6:56 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
Joan Rivers talked to Larry King in 2010 about being a comedian and how she handles jokes and real-life emotions.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
A look at comedian Joan Rivers through the years.
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Sun September 7, 2014
Comedian Joan Rivers lost her life after having an apparently minor elective procedure at a Manhattan medical clinic.
updated 3:55 PM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
When Joan Rivers had her star-making 1965 appearance on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," he told her, "God, you're funny."
updated 10:31 AM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
She was a perfect stand-up comic. Self-deprecating without being self-deprecating. Her jokes were flawless. And she was always the smartest person in the room.
updated 6:56 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
Joan Rivers talked to Larry King in 2010 about her love of performing.
updated 6:29 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
The outpatient clinic where comedian Joan Rivers suffered cardiac arrest during a procedure is being investigated.
updated 10:31 AM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
Stand-up comic, writer and winner of two Emmy Awards, Judy Gold, reflects on the life of her hero Joan Rivers.
The death of comedy legend Joan Rivers was felt acutely at E! Entertainment, which has lost a mainstay of its network for the last 20 years.
ADVERTISEMENT