Rivers first came to prominence in 1965 as a guest on The Tonight Show, a pioneering late-night program with interviews and comedy, hosted by Johnny Carson, whom she acknowledged as her mentor. The show established her particular comic style, poking fun at celebrities, but also at herself, often joking about her extensive plastic surgery. When she launched a rival program, The Late Show, he never spoke to her again. She went on to host a successful daytime slot, The Joan Rivers Show, which won her a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show Host. Her satirical style of humor, however, by focusing on the personal lives of celebrities and public figures, was sometimes criticized. She also authored 12 best-selling memoir and humor books, and provided comic material for stage and television. As an actress, Rivers was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 1994 for her performance as Sally Marr in Sally Marr...and her escorts.
Rivers died on September 4, 2014 following serious complications—including cardiac arrest—during a procedure on her vocal cords at a clinic on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.