Some in Winnipeg are fondly remembering the funny lines and quick wit of Joan Rivers, with some saying the legendary comedian has made a huge impact on them.

Rivers, 81, died Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, surrounded by family and close friends, according to her daughter, Melissa Rivers.

Joan Rivers had been hospitalized in New York on Aug. 28 after she stopped breathing during a surgical procedure on her vocal cords and suffered cardiac arrest.

The New York state health department is investigating the circumstances surrounding her cardiac arrest during the outpatient procedure at an endoscopy clinic.

"I was always a big fan of hers," Kenny Boyce, manager of film and special events with the City of Winnipeg, told CBC News.

Boyce said he got to show Rivers around Winnipeg when she performed at a wellness expo in 2010.

"Sometimes people always say not to meet your heroes, but meeting her was definitely a highlight in my career working in entertainment," he said.

Boyce said Rivers did a show at the expo about the role of laughter in wellness.

"I have seen a lot of comedians in my life, and I have to say I don't think I've ever seen a room laugh so hard," he recalled.

'Her legend will live on'

Margaret Camara, who performs as a Joan Rivers impersonator, says the comedian pushed boundaries.

"Not only inspired me, but shown me that, you know, go for it," Camara said.

"Her legend will live on. Her name will live on for a long time."

Rivers was also an inspiration to Jennine Profeta, a former Winnipegger who teaches improv comedy at Second City in Toronto.

Profeta said she was in awe listening to Rivers, spent time at the original Second City in Chicago, early in her career.

"It was a whole new world … listening to people like her, just such a distinct voice, just kind of doing something that I wasn't seeing anywhere else or hearing anywhere else," Profeta said.

"I just remember feeling like, 'What is this? What is she doing? And I want some of that.'"

Profeta said while her own comedic style is very different from that of Rivers, the famous comedian's personality and unapologetic style has inspired her as a performer and as a woman.