Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Mieography

Let me just preface this to say I CANNOT BELIEVE that I have not thought of this one, sooner. Because I LOVE her. Really, I do. So, here we go.

Gilda Susan Radner was born in Detroit, Michigan, daughter of Henrietta and Herman. She has an older brother, Michael. (They also had a nanny in their household, whom she called "Dibby", and later based her character Emily Litella on). She was very close to her father, he used to take her to NYC to see Broadway shows, and also frequently took her to the Seville Hotel in Detroit, where he worked. Many night club performers, and actors stayed there while performing. Sadly, her Dad died when she was only fourteen years old.
She enrolled in college at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where she made a lifelong, (platonic) friend, David Saltman. She began a broadcasting career there, as the weather girl for the college radio station. She dropped out her senior year, to follow her boyfriend, who was a Canadian sculptor, to Toronto. Once there, she was cast in a role in a production of Godspell, with Eugene Levy, and Martin Short, of all people. She also joined the Toronto Second City comedy troupe. Just to be busier, she also was a featured player on the National Lampoon Radio Hour, a syndicated comedy program. Other players on this show included John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray.
Eventually, she became part of the original "Not Ready For Prime Time Players", the first one cast for the first season of Saturday Night Live. Here, we met her as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Baba Wawa, Emily Litella (never mind!) and countless other's.
What we didn't realize, was that she was battling Bulimia during this time. She once told a reporter that she had thrown up in every toilet in Rockefeller Center. She was also in a relationship with Bill Murray. It ended, badly.
In 1979, she brought a show to Broadway, "Gilda Radner, Live from New York". It was filmed in 1981, as "Gilda, Live!". During this time, she met and married her first husband, G. E. Smith, a musician, and, eventually, SNL band leader.
Fate intervened when she went to film a movie, Hanky Panky, in the form of Gene Wilder. Her marriage deteriorating rapidly, she describes her meeting with Gene as love at first sight. They were eventually married in the South of France. They made three movies together. During their third movie, Haunted Honeymoon, she began having pain in her legs, and fatigue. She sought treatment, and, after ten months of false diagnoses, she learned she had Ovarian Cancer. Chemo and Radiation were the treatment. After the treatment, she was declared in Remission, and she wrote a memoir about her life, and illness, "It's Always Something".
Her cancer returned in 1989. She was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, where they sedated her to calm her before a CAT scan. She never woke up. Sadly, before her scan, that had been her greatest fear, not waking up. It's why they had medicated her.
Her gravestone reads: Gilda Radner Wilder-Comedenne-Ballerina 1946-1989.
Gene Wilder went on to establish the Gilda Radner Ovarian Detection Center at Cedars-Sinai, to screen high risk candidates, and run diagnostic tests. Her death raised awareness of early detection, and familial connection. (Had they looked back, they would have noted that her grandmother, aunt, and cousin ALL died of ovarian cancer).


sybil law said...

LOVE her. Love love love!
Also, I've always loved GE Smith, and never knew they were married. He kicked ass (at least as bandleader of SNL)!

Daryl said...

AND her life with Wilder was not all sunshine ... toward the end of her life he was having it on with someone else.. his establishing Gilda's House was a way to assuage his guilt.