Reviewed by Rosemarie Leenerts, Library Assistant
Comedian Gilda Radner made TV history as not only the first female but also the first cast member to be hired for NBC’s late-night sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live (SNL). The documentary Love, Gilda celebrates the life and heroic death of the comedy star who created the iconic characters Roseanne Roseannadanna, Baba Wawa, and Emily Litella.
Gilda Susan Radner was born into a well-do-do Detroit family in June 1946. Her father, with whom Gilda was close, was an auto executive who died from a brain tumor when Gilda was just 14. His death, her mother’s putting her on diet pills as a preteen, and her getting the bulk of emotional support from her nanny, Dibby, on whom Emily Litella is lovingly based, created insecurities in Gilda that she was only able to tamp down with comedy. While attending an all-girls school, Gilda realized that the funnier she was, the more confident she became.
The film is a chronological retelling that spans Gilda’s career, from selling tickets in a theater box office to performing in Godspell to joining the casts of Second City, the National Lampoon Radio Hour, and Saturday Night Live before starring in a handful of movies. The film also explores Gilda’s personal life, including her eating disorder and her romantic relationships with many of her SNL castmates, including Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short, and Bill Murray.
In the 1980s, newly married to actor Gene Wilder and living happily in Los Angeles, away from the grind of show business in New York, Gilda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. From this point in the film, the audience is treated to a quieter version of Gilda and one that seems authentically at peace with the world.
Love, Gilda, which features recently discovered audiotapes, interviews with Gilda’s friends, and narration from her journals by present-day female comedians, including Melissa McCarthy and Amy Poehler, is a celebration of one talented woman’s life cut too short by an unforgiving illness.
In honor of Women’s History Month, check out Love, Gilda in OverDrive by clicking here or by reserving the DVD for curbside pickup. Also available is Gilda’s memoir, It’s Always Something.