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Stars, others react to death of Joan Rivers

(Reuters) - Acerbic comedian Joan Rivers died in New York on Thursday, a week after suffering cardiac arrest during a medical procedure on her vocal cords, her daughter Melissa Rivers said.

Fellow comedians, actors and prominent figures paid tribute to Rivers:

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

- Statement from television network E!, which aired Rivers' "Fashion Police" show, and parent company NBCUniversal: "For decades Joan has made people laugh, shattered glass ceilings and revolutionized comedy. 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."

- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement: "Joan Rivers brought laughter to millions around the world and was proud of her Jewish heritage and a vocal supporter of the State of Israel. We will miss her deeply and we send our heartfelt condolences to her family."

- TV journalist Barbara Walters said in a statement: "No one loved life, laughter and a good time more than Joan. We would have dinner and laugh and gossip and I always left the table smiling. She was a brassy, often outrageous and hilarious performer who made millions laugh. In private, she was the picture of elegance and class. I will miss her."

- Actress and singer Liza Minnelli said on Facebook: "Joan Rivers was my dear friend and I will miss her but I will always remember the laughter and friendship she brought into my life."

- David Letterman, from Thursday's taping of his CBS "Late Night" talk show:

"Here’s a woman, a real pioneer for other women looking for careers in stand-up comedy. And talk about guts – she would come out here and sit in this chair and say some things that were unbelievable, just where you would have to swallow pretty hard …but it was hilarious… the force of her comedy was overpowering."

- Real estate mogul Donald Trump, whose "Celebrity Apprentice" reality TV show Rivers won in 2009, on Twitter said Rivers "was an amazing woman and a great friend. Her energy and talent were boundless. She will be greatly missed."

- Comedian Louis C.K. said in a statement: "I never saw someone attack a stage with so much energy. She was a controlled lightning bolt."

- Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres said on Twitter: "Joan Rivers will always be a pioneer. She paved the way for a lot of comedians. I'm very sad she's gone."

- Kelly Osbourne, "Fashion Police" co-host, on Facebook:

"I'm completely heartbroken by the loss of my beloved Joan. Not only was she my boss, she was and will always be my teacher, therapist, closest friend, inspiration and the only grandmother I ever knew ... I will miss you deeply and will always hear your voice in my head saying ‘my darling get out there and be you!’"

- George Kotsiopoulos, "Fashion Police" co-host, on Twitter: "Thank you for changing my life. I will miss you so much."

- Actress and singer Bette Midler said on Twitter: "Joan Rivers has died. What a sad ending to a brilliant and tragi-comic life; one of the bravest, and funniest of all."

- Comedian Sarah Silverman said on Twitter: "My heart is torn in half. She wasn't done."

- Comedian Billy Eichner said on Twitter: "Too much to say. A constant source of encouragement for me years before anyone else gave a damn. A full and fabulous life. Love you, Joan."

- Comedian and talk show host Seth Meyers said on Twitter: "RIP Joan Rivers. A force of nature."

- Actress Anna Kendrick said on Twitter: "RIP Joan Rivers. Being publicly told that my dress is hideous will never feel quite as awesome. You will be truly missed."

- Actress Lena Dunham said on Twitter: "Watching Joan Rivers do stand-up at age 81 was incredible: athletic, jaw-dropping, terrifying, essential. It never stopped. Neither will she."

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey and Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Ken Wills)

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