Joan Rivers—who died at the age of 81 earlier today—started her career off the red carpet, doing stand-up. "Somebody said, 'You can make six dollars standing up in a club.' It was better than typing all day," she told the AP last year. In the 1960s, she performed at clubs like The Bitter End and The Gaslight Cafe, before appearing on The Tonight Show. While her first appearance was when Jack Paar was hosting, it was Johnny Carson that took her under his wing—"God, you're funny. You're going to be a star," he told her after an appearance in 1965.

Here's one clip from that era—you'll learn about her Wino Chicken recipe, made with locally sourced ingredients picked up on the old Bowery:

Earlier this year, Rivers was welcomed back to The Tonight Show by Jimmy Fallon after a 26 year ban. After she landed her own late night talk show on Fox in the 1980s, following a guest host gig on The Tonight Show, Carson had her banned.

Here she is with Mr. Rogers, during her guest-hosting time in 1983:

And back to doing stand-up on the show in 1984:

Here she is with Carson just prior to the ban:

And on Fallon earlier this year:

And to see what she was doing on her own show, here's a great clip of Rivers interviewing the Beastie Boys back in 1987 (she was only host from 1986 to 1987):

To this day Rivers was the only woman to host her own late night talk show on network television.