TIME remembrance

RIP, Jan Hooks: There’s No I in SNL

Saturday Night Live
Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton, Jan Hooks as Hillary Clinton during the 'Nightline' skit on September 26, 1992. NBC—NBC via Getty Images

Hooks didn't barrel into your consciousness with catchphrases.

From the beginning, Saturday Night Live has been a vehicle for launching stars—Radner, Belushi, Ferrell, Wiig—on the strength of outsized, memorable, repeatable characters. Jan Hooks, who died Thursday at age 57, wasn’t one of the stars who summons up half a dozen trademarked characters when her name comes to mind (though fans who watched her 1986-1991 run will remember her as one half of the Sweeney sisters).

But that’s really the measure of what Hooks did so well. She didn’t barrel into your consciousness with catchphrases. Instead, with one character role and spot-on celebrity impression after another, she was a team player who helped make SNL bigger than the sum of its cast list, by being week in and week out one of its best comic actresses ever.

I’ve been thinking, with SNL coming up on its 40th anniversary, that lately I’ve been much more interested in sketch shows like Key & Peele, Portlandia and Inside Amy Schumer—taped shows, focused on one or two performers, with a more specific point of view and range of themes. There feels more energy right now in these shows with particular aims, not trying to be everything for everyone.

Someone like Hooks, though, is a reminder of what SNL could be at its best—a live show capable of becoming and taking on anything, depending on what the week calls for. And for that, you need players like Hooks: versatile, game live performers who can disappear into a role. Performers like her are a kind of human special effect, creating the canvas on which the show replicates the world.

Hooks could turn herself into celebrities from Sinead O’Connor to Tammy Faye Bakker to Diane Sawyer. Born in Atlanta (where she had an early role on TBS’s Bill Tush Show), she had a special knack for channeling brassy Southern women. (Her late-era “Put That Down!” sketch is one that’s always stuck with me: “BOBBY IS SELLING HIS EL CAMINO, MOTHER!”) But her characters, even the celeb parodies, weren’t just caricatures. She could put a kind of pathos into her Tammy Wynette or even Kathy Lee Gifford serenading a monkey (“Both of us come from God / But I… don’t… come… from you!”).

Much of Hooks’ career involved being memorable in projects that showcased other people. (The best non-Pee-Wee line in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is her chipper, pitying “There’s no basement at the Alamo!”) Jan Hooks was a star, and a terrible premature loss. But if it took you a while when you heard the news to recollect all the roles you knew her from, that’s all right. It means she did her job. RIP.

TIME remembrance

Remembering Steve Jobs, the Man Who Did Almost Everything Right

Steve Jobs Cover
The Feb. 15, 1982, cover of TIME TIME

The Apple CEO died on Oct. 5, 2011

Steven Paul Jobs, the legendary Apple boss who set the company on its course to becoming the world’s most cash-rich company before passing away three years ago Sunday, is often lauded as a technology visionary. But really, it was Jobs’ business acumen that made him not only a genius, but also a legend. As TIME put it in 1982, in the first cover story about Jobs:

To [Apple Computer co-founder Steve] Wozniak, the new machine was simply a gadget to show his fellow computer buffs. Jobs, in contrast, saw the commercial potential of the machine that could help families do their personal finance or small businesses control inventories, and he urged that they form a company to market the computer. The two raised $1,300 to open a makeshift production line by selling Jobs’ Volkswagen Micro Bus and Wozniak’s Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator. Jobs, recalling a pleasant summer that he spent working in the orchards of Oregon, christened the new computer Apple.

Indeed, Jobs’ drive to “sell a few,” as Woz put it in a 1983 TIME story, resulted in products that utterly changed the world into which they were introduced: The Macintosh, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. But that drive also made him a pretty tough guy to work for — or work with. “As an executive,” the earlier article explained, “Jobs has sometimes been petulant and harsh on subordinates. Admits he: ‘I’ve got to learn to keep my feelings private'”

Still, if you were able to put up with Jobs’ demanding ways of doing business, Apple wasn’t a bad place to be, even back in ’82. “From the start,” as TIME said, “the Apple team did almost everything right.”

Read TIME’s first cover story about Steve Jobs, free of charge, here in the archives: The Seeds of Success

TIME People

What Price Fame: James Dean Was “Barely a Celebrity” Before He Died

James Dean advice
From the Sept. 3, 1956, issue of TIME TIME

Sept. 30, 1955: James Dean is killed in a California car crash

James Dean’s career picked up considerably after he died.

The budding film star was killed on this day, Sept. 30, in 1955 after crashing his Porsche Spyder en route to a road race in Salinas, Calif., in which he was scheduled to compete. Just 24, he was “barely a celebrity” at the time, according to a 1956 story in TIME, which went on to report that within a year of his death he had gained more popularity than most living actors. Magazine and book publishers looking to memorialize the enigmatic icon were preparing “to jump aboard the bandwagon that looks disconcertingly like a hearse,” the piece proclaimed.

When he died, Dean had acted in only three movies: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant, only one of which had yet been released. He had worked his way up from smaller to larger roles: from appearing in a Pepsi commercial to working as a “test pilot” for stunts on a TV game show called Beat the Clock — a sort of precursor to Minute to Win It in which contestants competed in absurd timed challenges — to a well-reviewed role as a young gigolo in a Broadway adaptation of Andre Gide’s The Immoralist.

After he died, though, his fame reached new heights. By September of 1956, TIME noted Deans’ bewildering ascent to Hollywood superstardom:

Today he ranks No. 1 in Photoplay’s actor popularity poll, draws 1,000 fan letters a week (“Dear Jimmy: I know you are not dead”) at Warner’s — more than any live actor on the lot. Marveled one West Coast cynic: “This is really something new in Hollywood — boy meets ghoul.” Hollywood’s explanation: Dean not only appeals to a “mother complex” among teenage girls, but his roles as a troubled insecure youth prompted many young movie fans to identify with him.

Business types were eager to cash in on his posthumous popularity. In 1956, the story continued, Dean was still “haunting” newsstands with “four fast-selling magazines devoted wholly to him.”

He hasn’t stopped earning since. Forbes reported that in 2000, Dean’s estate raked in $3 million, very little of which took the form of royalties from his three films. Most came instead from licensing and merchandizing: “The rebellious heartthrob currently hawks everything from Hamilton watches, Lee Jeans, and Franklin Mint collectibles to cards by American Greetings, funneling funds to James Dean Inc., which is run by cousin Marcus Winslow.”

One of the many teenage girls pining for the departed heartthrob wrote to the advice columnist Dorothy Dix in the year after Dean’s death, lamenting, “I am 15 and in love. The problem is that I love the late James Dean. I don’t know what to do.” Dix advised her that time would lessen the sting of love and loss. In this case, however, the platitude’s been proved not entirely true: more than half a century on, society’s love for the late James Dean is still going strong.

Read about James Dean’s legacy here, in TIME’s archives: Dean of the One-Shotters

TIME 9/11

Woman Solves Mystery of Lost 9/11 Wedding Photo After 13 Years

Thanks to social media

For the past 13 years, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe has been trying to learn the identity of six people in a wedding photo that was uncovered in the rubble of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York City. On Friday, after years of sharing the photo on the Internet and social media, she finally got an answer.

A man named Fred Mahe, who attended the wedding and is in the photo, saw an article about Keefe’s search and sent her a LinkedIn message.

He told her that the photo was once pinned to his cubicle wall on the 77th floor of the second World Trade Center tower and — good news! — all six people in the photograph are alive and well.

“The story is Elizabeth, the story is persistence and trying to help someone she didn’t even know,” Mahe told ABC News. Mahe and Keefe have spoken on the phone and are set to meet this Monday.

Mahe has also been in touch with Christine Loredo, the bride in the photograph, who now lives in San Francisco with her husband and called the picture a “great memento of resilience.”

TIME remembrance

See What Manhattan Looked Like Before the World Trade Center

Photos from the LIFE collection depict Lower Manhattan in the decades before the Twin Towers became part of the New York City skyline

Just because it’s become a cliché doesn’t make it any less true: the world changed on 9/11. And nowhere was that change more profound or enduring than in New York City.

For some, the scale of the carnage in Lower Manhattan transformed all of New York, overnight, from a place they called home to a ruin they had to leave behind forever.

For countless others, the love we always had for New York only grew stronger after seeing the city so savagely attacked. Our connection to the town, and to other New Yorkers, suddenly had about it a sense of defiance, tempered by a kind of rough, unexpected tenderness: the metropolis that had always felt so huge and indomitable seemed, all of a sudden, painfully vulnerable. In need of protection. Our protection.

Here, we pay tribute to New York — specifically, to the storied landscape of Lower Manhattan, where 400 years ago New York was born — in photographs made in the decades before the Twin Towers anchored the foot of the island. Wall Street, Battery Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Trinity Church, the vast, shimmering harbor — they’re all here: landmarks that, despite everything, retain their place in the collective imagination, captured by some of the finest photographers of the 20th century.

See more of LIFE’s collection of New York City photography here, at LIFE.com: Where New York Was Born

TIME remembrance

WATCH LIVE: NYC Ceremony on 13th Anniversary of 9/11

The ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza begins at 8:40 a.m.

Hundreds of people gathered at the site of the World Trade Center for a ceremony to remember the 2,983 people killed in the 2001 and 1993 attacks. Family members of the victims have been invited to read names.

A citywide moment of silence will be held at 8:46 a.m., the time the first hijacked plane flew into the North Tower, and at five additional times throughout the morning, marking the time of impact of three other planes and the time the two towers fell.

TIME remembrance

13 Essential Stories About Sept. 11

20010924 TIME
The Sept. 24, 2001, cover of TIME TIME

A sampling of the stories that shaped how we understand what happened 13 years ago

An anniversary likes a round number, but Sept. 11, 2014, won’t give us that. It’s the same awkwardness that Jeffrey Kluger described in the pages of TIME’s Sept. 17, 2007, issue: “A sixth anniversary is an awkward thing, without the raw feeling of a first or the numerical tidiness of a fifth or 10th,” he wrote. “The families of the 2,973 people murdered that day need no calendrical gimmick to feel their loss, but a nation of 300 million — rightly or wrongly — is another matter.”

So, for the 13th anniversary, here are 13 essential stories on Sept. 11 from TIME’s archives.

If You Want to Humble an Empire. Sept. 14, 2001.

TIME’s editors had just a few days to pull together the entirety of the Sept. 14, 2001, issue. Much of that work fell to Nancy Gibbs, then a senior editor and now the magazine’s editor, who wrote a story that filled nearly every page. The piece is a recounting of what happened that morning, not only to the President and the hijackers, but also to those who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and those who went there later, to help.

The full text of this article is now available free of charge in TIME’s archives. Click here to read it.

Mourning in America. Sept. 24, 2001.

By Sept. 24, 2001, there had been some time — not much, but some — to understand the scale of the day. The “One Nation, Indivisible” issue of TIME brims with the images that are most often remembered when thinking back to that day 13 years ago: President Bush, the missing posters, the flags. But there are also the moment-of memories that, for most of us, have likely faded to gray. The 1-800 numbers to call for information about helping; the 1-800 numbers to call if you were the one who needed the help. Once again, Nancy Gibbs wrote the issue’s cover story, a look at the national mood as the new reality set in:

In a week when everything seemed to happen for the first time ever, the candle became a weapon of war. Our enemies had turned the most familiar objects against us, turned shaving kits into holsters and airplanes into missiles and soccer coaches and newlyweds into involuntary suicide bombers. So while it was up to the President and his generals to plot the response, for the rest of us who are not soldiers and have no cruise missiles, we had candles, and we lit them on Friday night in an act of mourning, and an act of war.That is because we are fighting not one enemy but two: one unseen, the other inside. Terror on this scale is meant to wreck the way we live our lives–make us flinch when a siren sounds, jump when a door slams and think twice before deciding whether we really have to take a plane. If we falter, they win, even if they never plant another bomb. So after the early helplessness—What can I do? I’ve already given blood—people started to realize that what they could do was exactly, as precisely as possible, whatever they would have done if all this hadn’t happened.

We’re Under Attack. Dec. 31, 2001.

As part of the 2001 Person of the Year issue honoring New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, TIME put together an extensive oral history of Sept. 11:

GIULIANI: I go up to [Fire Chief Peter]Ganci and I say, “What should I communicate to people?” He says, “Tell them to get in the stairways. Tell them our guys are on the way up.” And then he looks at me and says, “I think we can save everybody below the fire.” What he is telling me is, they’re gone. Everybody above the fire is gone. He says people are not panicking. They’re moving fast. I grab his hand, shake it and say, “Good luck. God bless you.”

A Miracle’s Cost. Sept. 9, 2002.

On the first anniversary of the attacks, TIME looked at the lives of 11 people who had been deeply affected by 9/11. Though others are more famous, from the President to the head of the Victim Compensation Fund, Genelle Guzman-McMillan’s story is equally worth remembering. John Cloud profiled the last person to be found alive in the rubble of the Twin Towers, a Port Authority employee, and finds that survival is far from simple:

“For Judy,” says Gail [LaFortune], using her cousin’s middle name, as do those who grew up with Genelle in Trinidad, “there’s a sense of…of misplaced things, of misplaced parts of her life.” If that’s true, how does Genelle Guzman-McMillan find herself again? It turns out there is no shortage of people who want to help create a carefree, well-centered version of Genelle—and an inspirational Sept. 11 tale for the rest of us: Victim miraculously lives, turns to God, finds true love (in July, she and longtime boyfriend Roger McMillan had a free “dream wedding” arranged by Bride’s magazine and CBS’s The Early Show, an event both then covered as news). But her story isn’t so simple. People say Sept. 11 was a crucible for our nation, which may or may not be true, but it was doubtlessly a crucible for the person you see in the pictures on this page. The question is, Who emerged from that crucible? Why did the last survivor survive?

The World According to Michael. July 12, 2004.

As the post-Sept. 11 mood of national unity began to show cracks in the years after the attacks, perhaps no one better exemplified that change than divisive documentarian Michael Moore, whose film Fahrenheit 9/11 remains the top-grossing documentary in movie history. Richard Corliss profiled the filmmaker for a cover story shortly after it hit that milestone:

“Was it all just a dream?” Michael Moore poses that question at the start of Fahrenheit 9/11, his docu-tragicomedy about the Bush Administration’s actions before and after Sept. 11, 2001. Moore’s tone isn’t wistful; it’s angry. He’s steamed about the Florida vote wrangle of 2000, the Supreme Court decision to declare George W. Bush President of the United States, the policies of Bush’s advisers and especially what he sees as the deflection of a quick, vigorous search-and-destroy mission against Osama bin Laden into an open-ended war on terrorism—”You can’t declare war on a noun,” Moore said last week—that spawned a dubious and costly invasion of Iraq.

Halting the Next 9/11, Aug. 2, 2004

Romesh Ratnesar parsed the 567-page 9/11 commission report and found it meticulous — but questioned whether the knowledge it contains can possibly make a difference:

In the long run, making America and its allies safe again will require far broader changes than even the 9/11 panel was empowered to propose. In the meantime, the U.S. has little choice but to brace itself for the possibility of another strike. “We do not believe,” the commissioners write in the report’s conclusion, “that it is possible to defeat all terrorist attacks against Americans, every time and everywhere.” In that sense, the 9/11 commission’s legacy may ultimately be determined by how long the U.S. can deter the inevitable.

The Class of 9/11. May 30, 2005.

Kristen Beyer came to West Point because she was recruited for swimming, but mere weeks had passed before it became clear that the service she had signed up to give after graduation would not be in a peacetime army. Nancy Gibbs and Nathan Thornburgh profiled Beyer and two of her classmates on the eve of their graduations:

Cadet after cadet spoke up. Terrorists attacked us, they said. If you were on the fence even in the slightest, if you weren’t 100% sure you wanted to be in this fight, you shouldn’t be here at all. Beyer didn’t know those cadets or whether they knew her or whether they saw her as a laid-back swimmer type without a soldier’s steel. Still, their comments cut straight through her and destroyed the frail truce she had made with West Point. “I just shut up,” she says. “But I was so angry. ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ I asked myself. The attitude was, If you didn’t grow up just dying to be in the military, you’re worthless.”

It was the beginning of Beyer’s darkest time at West Point. “Every day I just hated myself for staying. I hated everybody else.” Everyone except her teammates and Huntington, whom she had talked into staying with her. “We got much closer. I could use her as a shoulder to cry on, and she could use me the same way,” Beyer says. Ultimately, she decided that the Army wasn’t going to change. She had to.

The Day That Changed… Very Little. Aug. 7, 2006

Much of the media narrative after 9/11 was about how pop culture was going to become more sincere and more serious. Then a few more years went by, and James Poniewozik wrote about how those predictions turned out to be false:

Still, saying that 9/11 has entered pop culture is not the same thing as saying that 9/11 has changed pop culture. The disaster movie, the docudrama, the inspirational war story–those are not exactly innovations. There were predictions just after the attacks that pop culture would become more patriotic or more nostalgic or more introspective. Instead, it has just become more of what it was before–violent, irreverent, licentious and so on. 24 is a great show, but you can trace its ice-blooded do-what-you-gotta-do-ism back to Dirty Harry, not Donald Rumsfeld. It’s hard to see how any post-9/11 movie has hit on the nobility, banality and absurdity of war in a way Saving Private Ryan didn’t. On Three Moons Over Milford, a new comedy-drama on ABC Family, ordinary people change their lives after the moon breaks into three pieces, threatening Earth. But it’s a series on a modestly rated cable channel. Five years after 9/11, rethinking your priorities in the face of mortality is now niche programming.

Why the 9/11 Conspiracies Won’t Go Away. Sept. 11, 2006.

On the fifth anniversary, Lev Grossman investigated why so many people want to believe that the rest of us are missing something about what happened on Sept. 11:

There are psychological explanations for why conspiracy theories are so seductive. Academics who study them argue that they meet a basic human need: to have the magnitude of any given effect be balanced by the magnitude of the cause behind it. A world in which tiny causes can have huge consequences feels scary and unreliable. Therefore a grand disaster like Sept. 11 needs a grand conspiracy behind it. “We tend to associate major events–a President or princess dying–with major causes,” says Patrick Leman, a lecturer in psychology at Royal Holloway University of London, who has conducted studies on conspiracy belief. “If we think big events like a President being assassinated can happen at the hands of a minor individual, that points to the unpredictability and randomness of life and unsettles us.” In that sense, the idea that there is a malevolent controlling force orchestrating global events is, in a perverse way, comforting.

Death Comes for the Terrorist. May 20, 2011

David Von Drehle reported on the killing of Osama bin Laden, from President Bush’s 2001 uttering of the words “dead or alive” to President Obama’s finding himself in the Situation Room:

Osama bin Laden, elusive emir of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, the man who said yes to the 9/11 attacks, the taunting voice and daunting catalyst of thousands of political murders on four continents, was dead. The U.S. had finally found the long-sought needle in a huge and dangerous haystack. Through 15 of the most divisive years of modern American politics, the hunt for bin Laden was one of the few steadily shared endeavors. President Bill Clinton sent a shower of Tomahawk missiles down on bin Laden’s suspected hiding place in 1998 after al-Qaeda bombed two U.S. embassies in Africa. President George W. Bush dispatched troops to Afghanistan in 2001 after al-Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. Each time, bin Laden escaped, evaporating into the lawless Afghan borderlands where no spy, drone or satellite could find him. Meanwhile, the slender Saudi changed our lives in ways large and small, touched off a moral reckoning over the use of torture and introduced us to the 3-oz. (90 ml) toothpaste tube.

Portraits of Resilience. Sept. 19, 2011

Ten years after 9/11, TIME featured interviews with 40 people who led, who helped, who survived. The website that accompanied the print project won an Emmy award in 2013; it can be found online at http://content.time.com/time/beyond911

The One World Trade Center panorama. March 6, 2014.

As One World Trade Center neared completion, Josh Sanburn wrote about the new building, a dozen years in the making :

But the long wait was also the result of a nearly impossible mandate: One World Trade Center needed to be a public response to 9/11 while providing valuable commercial real estate for its private owners, to be open to its neighbors yet safe for its occupants. It needed to acknowledge the tragedy from which it was born while serving as a triumphant affirmation of the nation’s resilience in the face of it.

“It was meant to be all things to all people,” says Christopher Ward, who helped manage the rebuilding as executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “It was going to answer every question that it raised. Was it an answer to the terrorists? Was the market back? Was New York going to be strong? That’s what was really holding up progress.”

Remains of the Day. May 26, 2014

When the 9/11 museum opened this spring, Richard Lacayo looked at the way it preserves the past and serves the future:

The completion of the museum is an important moment in the imperfect reclamation of Ground Zero, a place where years ago grief swept the table and which is slowly coming back to life. You could say that every visitor will now be a kind of recovery worker, returning the site to normality simply by being there, helping in a small way to take back that haunted space.

For more, visit TIME’s September 11 topic page.

TIME Opinion

Why We Needed to Take Joan Rivers Less Seriously

Joan Rivers Dead Obit
Joan Rivers is honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 26, 1989, at Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood Ron Galella—WireImage/Getty Images

The same media who loved railing against her "offensive" and "mean" jokes are now hailing her as a "pioneer"

Now that Joan Rivers has passed away, you probably won’t be reading much from all the people who called her a bitch. Of course, nobody wants to speak ill of the dead, and they shouldn’t. But even though CNN called Joan Rivers “mean” in July, today they’re calling her “pioneering.” HollywoodLife called her “cruel” and “hateful” in June, but today she’s “beloved.” Jezebel staffers, who have long railed against Rivers’ “offensive” jokes, are now hailing her as “a comic legend.”

Joan Rivers would call those people “full of s–t.”

It’s not that Joan Rivers wasn’t a pioneering, beloved comic legend — she was. It’s that she didn’t get enough credit for that when she was alive. Instead, there was always someone ready to interpret her comments as personal attacks rather than jokes, which made her beloved and reviled in equal measure. After the father of a deaf boy was offended by a joke she made about Helen Keller, she explained her thinking to an interviewer:

If you laugh at it, you can deal with it, and if you don’t, you can’t deal with it. And don’t start telling me that I shouldn’t be saying it. That’s the way I do it. I would have been laughing at Auschwitz.

She joked that Adele was fat. She joked that Kim Kardashian’s daughter North West was an “ugly” baby who needed to wax. She even joked about her own husband’s suicide. When New York Magazine asked her if there was ever a wrong time to make a joke, she said:

Never. If a joke comes to you, then that’s the time for humor. When my husband committed suicide, there was nothing funny running through my head. But by the next day, I was already starting with close friends to do terrible black humor. Two nights after 9/11, I was doing I-hate-terrorists-because-they’re-so-blank jokes. That’s how I get through life. God has given us this gift of humor. Animals don’t laugh.

In other words, she didn’t have boundaries, but boundaries are exactly what we pay comedians to break. Rivers helped pioneer the kind of nasty humor that spawned a whole generation of comics, from Chris Rock to Sarah Silverman to Ricky Gervais. So why couldn’t we stop telling her to shut up?

Because where male comedians were “funny,” Rivers was “offensive.” She was the Queen of Mean. When she joked that Heidi Klum’s Oscar dress was so stunning that “the last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens,” she was slammed as “vulgar.” A joke about Miley Cyrus’ virginity in her most recent book drew criticism because people thought she was actually accusing her of incest. She was always being asked to apologize for one thing or another, and she almost never did.

Rivers once wrote in the Hollywood Reporter that she felt like people were always looking for evidence that she was a nasty person. “When I say, ‘No, this is wrong,’ people say: ‘See? She is a bitch. She is a c—.’ If I were a man, they’d say: ‘So brilliant. He’s tough, but he’s right.’ Nobody ever says to me, ‘You’re right.’”

But she even had a sense of humor about her own bad rap. After her Comedy Central Roast in 2009, she said, “They called me evil, mean and [a] plastic surgery whore and disgusting. I kept saying to myself, ‘How do they know so much about me?’”

Where most women struggle to be taken more seriously, we needed to take Joan Rivers less seriously. In a comedic career that spanned over 50 years, there was always someone who didn’t get the joke. But she wasn’t a “bitch” — she was a comedian.

TIME remembrance

These Are Joan Rivers’ Best One-Liners

Joan Rivers Dead Obit
Comedienne Joan Rivers wearing black mesh dress and heels, while talking on the phone in a bathtub in New York City on March 1, 1966. Truman Moore—The TIME & LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

"People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made."

The world lost one of its most biting comics when Joan Rivers died Thursday at the age of 81.

Rivers acted and performed comedy for 55 years, writing most of her own material. She was known for her unapologetically blunt humor and she was egalitarian about it, too: nobody was safe from becoming the butt of a Joan Rivers joke, including Rivers herself.

Distilling Rivers’ funniest jokes into a short list is an impossible task: her best material could fill several books. So, in honor of the iconic comedienne TIME has gathered just a few of her best jokes:

I knew I was an unwanted baby when I saw that my bath toys were a toaster and a radio.

I hate thin people: ‘Oh, does the tampon make me look fat?’

People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made.

I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery.

It was a Jewish porno film… one minute of sex and nine minutes of guilt.

I am definitely going to watch the Emmys this year! My makeup team is nominated for ‘Best Special Effects.’

All my mother told me about sex was that the man goes on top and the woman on the bottom. For three years my husband and I slept in bunk beds.

My love life is like a piece of Swiss cheese; most of it’s missing, and what’s there stinks.

The first time I see a jogger smiling, I’ll consider it.

Every woman in this room tonight: Think like a second wife. You grab and you take. You grab and you take. And when you die, whatever you got out of him you have buried on you. If the next bitch wants it, make her dig for it.

Women should look good. Work on yourselves. Education? I spit on education. No man is ever going to put his hand up your dress looking for a library card.

You know you’ve reached middle age when you’re cautioned to slow down by your doctor, instead of by the police.

When a man has a birthday, he takes a day off. When a woman has a birthday, she takes at least three years off.

Half of all marriages end in divorce—and then there are the really unhappy ones.

A study says owning a dog makes you 10 years younger. My first thought was to rescue two more, but I don’t want to go through menopause again.

I have no sex appeal and it has screwed me up for life. Peeping Toms look at my window and pull down the shade. My gynecologist examines me by telephone.

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