Joan Rivers started her career as a stand-up comedian quick to poke fun at herself -- at her body, her family responsibilities and being a misfit within an unaccommodating world.
By the time she died Thursday at 81, Rivers had become a worldwide celebrity. But she was still a misfit, biting the well-groomed hands that fed her.
The comedian was quick-witted and sharp-tongued, known for standing on the red carpet or presiding over her show "Fashion Police" and, she said, saying the things that other people were thinking.
Rivers, the pioneering, sassy comedian whose gossipy "can we talk" persona led to a career as a headlining talk-show host, best-selling author and red-carpet maven, died a week after being rushed to the hospital after suffering cardiac arrest at a Manhattan clinic.
She earned several honors over her career. She was nominated for a Grammy and a Tony, and won a Daytime Emmy for her early-'90s talk show. She had a successful jewelry line that she sold on QVC.
She almost never apologized and rarely looked back. After all, she said, it was her bluntness that made her who she was.
"I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking," she said. Rivers is survived by her daughter, Melissa, and a grandson, Cooper.