Joan Rivers' Blunt, Hilarious Life in Ads and on TV

Comedian Did Many TV Commercial Spots, Broke Boundaries In Late Night

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Joan Rivers, the outspoken, often brazen comedian and fashion critic, died today following complications from a medical procedure, according to press reports. She was 81.

Ms. Rivers, who starred on E!'s "Fashion Police" and critiqued and criticized red-carpet fashion for The Academy Awards, MTV's Video Music Awards and the Primetime Emmy Awards, was known for her brash humor and as a pioneer for women in comedy.

"For decades Joan has made people laugh, shattered glass ceilings and revolutionized comedy," E! said in a statement. "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."

Ms. Rivers began her career in the 1960s doing standup, and went on to make regular appearances on "The Tonight Show" starring Johnny Carson, where she often served as a guest host. When Ms. Rivers was passed over by NBC in planning for Mr. Carson's retirement, she made TV history by hosting "The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers" on then-nascent Fox, which directly took on "The Tonight Show." But the late-night gig lasted for just one year, from 1986-1987, before she was fired due to sagging ratings and tensions behind the scenes.

She then went on to host the daytime talk show "The Joan Rivers Show" in 1989, which aired for five years.

It was in the early 1990s when Ms. Rivers and her daughter Melissa Rivers began hosting pre-award shows for what was then E! Entertainment Television. "Fashion Police" debuted in September 2010 as a weekly program and currently pulls in about half a million viewers.

Ms. Rivers was known for making fun of anyone, including herself, and often talked about her multiple plastic surgeries. But her brand of humor has sometimes been criticized as blunt and insensitive. Most recently, she came under fire for saying she did not feel sadness for civilians killed in Gaza. Ms. Rivers said the media took her words out of context.

Aside from "Fashion Police," Ms. Rivers also starred alongside her daughter in the We TV reality show, "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best," which wrapped its fourth season in May.

Ms. Rivers has also appeared in her fair share of commercials in recent years. In 2011, she starred in Go Daddy's Super Bowl spot, where her face was superimposed onto a model's body.

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Most recently, Ms. Rivers was a spokeswoman for Dodge.

She also appeared in commercials for CVS last year, an Old Navy commercial in 2012, and an SK Energy spot along with rapper 50 Cent.

Ms. Rivers spoke at Ad Age's own Digital Conference in 2011, and in an interview shared her secret to showbiz longevity, her thoughts on product placement and the one regret of her famed career (that her "Can We Shop?" series was canceled over 20 years ago).

On product placement, Ms. Rivers said: "It's sneaky. 'Oh, he's dying, give him a sip of Coke!' 'Quick, he's gonna have another heart attack, get some Dom Perignon, fast!'"

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