Gilda Radner is, without a doubt, the greatest female “Saturday Night Live” star in the history of its airing. She has portrayed many colorful characters like Rosanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, and Baba Wawa. My grandmother introduced me to her with her “Gilda Live” VHS tape, and years later, I bought the early “SNL” seasons on DVD, and heard some of her fun voices on an animated TV movie called “Animalympics.” She really has had an impact on my life. Not even Kristen Wiig or Tina Fey could replace her, and I admire those two.
The documentary, “Love, Gilda,” is a touching story that taught me some things I’ve never knew about Gilda. She grew up in Detroit with a vibrant sense of humor, had an eating problem, and lost her father at such a young age to a brain tumor.
Years later, she went to Toronto, Canada where she appeared in the stage production of “Godspell,” and later, in the comedy troupe “The Second City.” And finally, she made it to New York with her appearance on “SNL,” as part of the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players,” and her Broadway show “Gilda Radner-Live From New York.”
And once her “SNL” career kept rolling on, she started to develop some stress and an eating disorder. Until her romance with Gene Wilder whipped her back into shape. That is until, Ovarian Cancer took her life. This is such a humorous and sad story, and I was hooked.
The movie is told from Gilda’s letters and tape recorder, with some interviews with her brother Michael, her fellow collaborators (including Martin Short, Chevy Chase, Lorne Michaels, and Alan Zweibel), and even the stars and hosts she’s inspired (Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Cecily Strong, and Melissa McCarthy).
Directed by Lisa D’Apolito, “Love, Gilda” is made for fans of Gilda Radner, not just for her hilarious characters, but also for the difficulties she’s faced in her career. This movie taught me there was more than meets the eye, and from what I have learned, even being a comedian can have its downsides. There are times when I smiled (mostly at her “SNL” years), times when I giggled (mostly at her characters), and times when I felt depressed (mostly with her tragic tales). This holds a strong balance of emotions.
Even if we didn’t get to see interviews from her “SNL” co-stars like Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, or Garrett Morris, we still had a lot to see in the movie. It’s about feminism, depression, challenges, and reboots-all the qualities that makes a woman smart and beautiful.
Gilda Radner (1946-1989) will never be forgotten, and this movie is a reminder.