The original cast of the comic troupe Not Ready For Prime Time Players comprised of comedians….who individually. while standing on their own individual talent…were all comedic geniuses….as the trroupe included Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner , Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. As I have mentioned before…..a huge crowd would gather on Saturday nights at 10 pm at Bone Daddy’s sports bar in downtown Austin….which was a recurring event on each and every Saturday night throughout every year during the 15 years that Madison Square Garden, The Sports Place was in downtown Austin at 302 E. 6th Street. It was the popularity of SNL that led Bone Daddy to video tape over 500 episodes….which will eventually be posted in its entirety here at ImaSportsphile….and the fact remains that every member of the Not Ready For Prime Time Players were comedic geniuses….but Gilda Radner was BD’s favorite female comedian in the troupe…..as her ability to make people laugh just stood out from the others…..so, today I am dedicating this story to the legendary comedian known as Gilda Radner…..cuz he genius still makes BD and I laugh whenever we hear “It’s always something” from Roseanne Roseannadanna….and “Never mind” from Emily Litella…..as we watched the videos that we are sharing here today.
Comedy – 1975 To 1980 – SNL Original Cast Highlights – Top Ten Sketches Of The 1970’s – Featuring The Original Not Ready For Prime Time Players
Radner (June 28, 1946 – May 20, 1989) was an American actress and comedian… who was one of the eight original cast members for the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL)…..where in her routines she specialized in parodies of television stereotypes such as advice specialists and news anchors….when in 1978, she won an Emmy Award for her performances on the show…..and then she also portrayed those characters in her highly successful one-woman show on Broadway in 1979.
Music & Comedy – 1980 – SNL Skit – Gilda Radner As Lisa Loopner Performing A Lovely Rendition Of “The Way We Were”
Radner’s SNL work established her as an iconic figure in the history of American comedy…..even before she died from ovarian cancer in 1989 at the age of 43 years…..when her autobiography dealt frankly with her life, work, and personal struggles….which included those with the illness….as her widower, Gene Wilder, carried out her personal wish that information about her illness would help other cancer victims by founding and inspiring organizations that emphasize early diagnosis, hereditary factors and support for cancer victims. She was posthumously awarded a Grammy Award in 1990….while being inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1992……and she posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003.
Comedy – 1978 – SNL Skit With Jane Curtin + Gilda Radner + Bill Murray – In “The Nerds Prom Night”
Radner was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Jewish parents, Henrietta and Herman Radner….as she grew up in Detroit with a nanny, Elizabeth Clementine Gillies, whom she called “Dibby”….from who she based her famous character Emily Litella….. along with an older brother named Michael. She attended the exclusive University Liggett School in Detroit. Toward the end of her life, Radner wrote in her autobiography, It’s Always Something, that during her childhood and young adulthood, she battled numerous eating disorders….saying “I coped with stress by having every possible eating disorder from the time I was nine years old. I have weighed as much as 160 pounds and as little as 93. When I was a kid, I overate constantly. My weight distressed my mother and she took me to a doctor who put me on Dexedrine diet pills when I was ten years old.”
Comedy – 2015 – Gilda Fest ’15 Special Film – “Celebrating Gilda Radner”
Radner was close to her father….who operated Detroit’s Seville Hotel…..where many nightclub performers and actors stayed while performing in the city. He took her on trips to New York to see Broadway shows. Radner graduated from Liggett and enrolled at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1964. She planned to get an education degree. In Ann Arbor, Radner dropped out in her senior year to follow her boyfriend, Canadian sculptor Jeffrey Rubinoff, to Toronto….where she made her professional acting debut in the 1972 production of Godspell….with future stars Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Victor Garber, Martin Short, and Paul Shaffer…..after which she joined The Second City comedy troupe in Toronto….. where she was a featured player on the National Lampoon Radio Hour….which was a comedy program syndicated to some 600 U.S. radio stations from 1974 to 1975…..which included fellow cast members John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Richard Belzer, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray and Rhonda Coullet.
Comedy & Music – 1979 – SNL Skit – Gilda Radner Does Her Patti Smith Impression – As The Band “Candy Slice” At A “Rock Against Yeast” Fundraiser
Radner gained name recognition as one of the original “Not Ready for Prime Time Players”…..who were the freshman group on the first (1975) season of Saturday Night Live…..as she was the 1st performer cast for the show….where she co-wrote much of the material that she performed…..and collaborated with Alan Zweibel (of the show’s writing staff) on sketches that highlighted her recurring characters…..where between 1975 and 1980, she created characters such as obnoxious personal advice expert Roseanne Roseannadanna…..which was created after NY local female reporter Rose Ann Scamardella….along with Baba Wawa…..which was a parody of Barbara Walters. After Radner’s death, Walters stated in an interview that Radner was the “first person to make fun of news anchors, now it’s done all the time.” In the book We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy ….author Yael Kohen wrote“Of the three female cast members [SNL], Gilda Radner made the deepest impact. There is hardly a female sketch comic today who does not claim Radner as an inspiration for her comedy career.”
Comedy – 1978 – SNL Skit – Baba Wawa (Gilda Radner) At Large – With Guest Henry Kissinger (John Belushi)
She also played the character Emily Litella….who was an elderly, hearing-impaired woman that gave angry and misinformed editorial replies on “Weekend Update News” on SNL…and additionally parodied celebrities such as Lucille Ball, Patti Smith and Olga Korbut in SNL sketches. As evidenced by the videos seen in this post herewith….Gilda Radner’s characters were simply comedic genius….as each one had the capacity to generate huge laughs…..what we call “belly busters” here at Imasportsphile…..cuz you can’t watch any one of them without busting into a big laugh…..which is way beyond a chuckle.
Comedy – 1977 – SNL Weekend Update Sports – With John Belushi Interview Of Gymnist Olga Korbut (Gilda Radner)
She won an Emmy Award in 1978 for her work on SNL…..and In Rolling Stone‘s February 2015 appraisal of all 141 SNL cast members to date (2020), Radner was ranked 9th in importance…..as the publication wrote “[Radner was] the most beloved of the original cast….for in the years between Mary Tyler Moore and Seinfeld’s Elaine, Radner was the prototype for the brainy city girl with a bundle of neuroses.” Radner battled bulimia while on the show….plus, she had a relationship with fellow SNL and National Lampoon cast mate Bill Murray….which ended badly….as few details of their relationship or its end were made public. In her book It’s Always Something, she made the only reference to Murray in the entire book by saying…..“All the guys [in the National Lampoon group of writers and performers] liked to have me around because I would laugh at them till I peed in my pants and tears rolled out of my eyes. We worked together for a couple of years creating The National Lampoon Show, writing The National Lampoon Radio Hour, and even working on stuff for the magazine, and that is when Bill Murray joined the show.” In 1979, incoming NBC President Fred Silverman offered Radner her own prime time variety show….which she turned down. That year, she was also a host of the Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations General Assembly.
Comedy – 1977 – SNL Skit – The Judy Miller Show Live From Her Bedroom – With Gilda Radner
Alan Zweibel, who co-created the Roseanne Roseannadanna character and co-wrote Roseanne’s dialogue, recalled that Radner, one of three original SNL cast members who stayed away from cocaine, chastised him for abusing it. While in character as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Radner gave the commencement address to the graduating class at the Columbia School of Journalism in 1979.
Comedy – 1979 – SNL Weekend Update With Jane Curtin – Featuring Roseanne Roseannadana (Gilda Radner) On The King Tut Exhibit
Radner had mixed emotions about the fans and strangers who recognized her in public…..as she sometimes became “angry when she was approached [by strangers in public], and upset when she wasn’t”…..and according to the book by Hill and Weingrad.In 1979…. Radner appeared on Broadway in a successful one-woman show, Gilda Radner – Live from New York…..as the show featured material that was racier than NBC censors would allow on Saturday Night Live…..as evidenced by the song “Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals”. The same year, shortly before Radner’s final season on Saturday Night Live, her Broadway show was filmed by Mike Nichols….and released with the title Gilda Live, co-starring Paul Shaffer and Don Novello…..when it screened in theaters nationwide in 1980….but achieved poor box-office results…..as a soundtrack album was also unsuccessful. During the Broadway production, Radner met her first husband, G. E. Smith, a musician who worked on the show. They were married in a civil ceremony in 1980.
Music – 1979 – Gilda Radner Live On Broadway – “Let’s Talk Dirty To The Animals”
In the fall of 1980, after the departure of all the original SNL cast members from the show, Radner began working with actor Sam Waterston in the Jean Kerr play Lunch Hour. They played two people whose spouses are having an affair….and in retaliation begin a relationship of their own consisting of trysts during their lunch hour. The show ran for more than seven months in various theaters in the United States, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C…..as newspaper critics, including Tom Shales, praised the play and Radner’s performance. Radner’s SNL cast mate Laraine Newman said in a 2018 interview that she believed Radner’s movie career turned out to be mostly disappointing…..while being quoted in an interview that Radner’s movie career suffered because directors and producers did not know how to cast her in roles where her talents could best shine….saying, “The specific nature of her talent was she did characters, and she would probably have been better served if she had taken part in writing the things that she did,” …..as Newman asserts. “But I don’t think it occurred to her. If she and Alan Zweibel had collaborated on a feature, it might have been a whole different thing.”
After breaking up with Jeffrey Rubinoff, Radner had an on-again-off-again relationship with Martin Short while both were appearing in Godspell…..plus, she had romantic involvements with several male Saturday Night Live castmates, including Bill Murray (after a previous relationship with his brother Brian Doyle-Murray) and Dan Aykroyd. Radner’s friend Judy Levy recounted Radner saying she found that the film Ghostbusters was hard to watch since the cast comprised so many of her ex-boyfriends – Aykroyd, Murray, and Harold Ramis. Radner was first married to musician G. E. Smith after they met while working on Gilda Radner – Live from New York; they divorced in 1982…..then she met actor Gene Wilder on the set of the Sidney Poitier film Hanky Panky (released in 1982)…. when the two worked together making the film…..as she described their first meeting as “love at first sight”. After meeting Wilder, her marriage to Smith deteriorated…..and when Radner made a 2nd film with Wilder, The Woman in Red (released in 1984)….that is when their relationship deepened….and the two were married on September 18, 1984, in Saint-Tropez. They made a 3rd film together, Haunted Honeymoon, in 1986 and remained married until her death in 1989.
Comedy – 1978 – SNLSkit With Steve Martin + Gilda Radner – “Dancing In The Dark”
Details of Radner’s eating disorder were reported in a book about Saturday Night Live by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad, which was published and received much media coverage during a period when Radner was consulting various doctors in Los Angeles about symptoms of an illness she was suffering that turned out to be cancer. After Radner was told that she had gone into remission, she wrote It’s Always Something….which was a catchphrase of her character Roseanne Roseannadanna….as the book included details of her struggle with the illness. Life magazine did a March 1988 cover story on her illness, titled “Gilda Radner’s Answer to Cancer: Healing the Body with Mind and Heart.” In 1988, Radner guest-starred on It’s Garry Shandling’s Show on Fox TV, to critical acclaim. When Shandling asked her why she had not been seen in public for a while, she replied, “Oh, I had cancer. What did you have?” Shandling’s reply: “A very bad series of career moves … which, by the way, there’s no treatment for whatsoever.” She repeated on-camera Mark Twain’s apocryphal saying, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Radner planned to host an episode of Saturday Night Live that year, but a writers’ strike caused the delay of the network television season. In September 1988, after tests showed no signs of cancer, Radner went on a maintenance chemotherapy treatment to prolong her remission….but three months later, in December, she learned the cancer had returned…..when she was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on May 17, 1989, to undergo a CT scan…..as she was given a sedative and went into a coma during the scan….and she did not regain consciousness and died three days later from ovarian cancer on May 20, 1989….as Wilder was at her side.
Comedy – 1978 – SNL Weekend Update With Jane Curtin – Featuring Roseanne Roseannadana (Gilda Radner) – On Smoking
News of Radner’s death broke as Steve Martin was rehearsing to act as the guest host for that night’s season finale of Saturday Night Live. The show’s performers and crew, including Lorne Michaels, Phil Hartman, and Mike Myers….who had, in his own words, “fallen in love” with Radner after playing her son in a BC Hydro commercial on Canadian television and considered her the reason he wanted to be on SNL…. had not known how grave her situation was. Martin’s planned opening monologue was scrapped…..and in its place a visibly upset Martin introduced a video clip of a 1978 sketch in which he and Radner had parodied Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in a well-known dance routine from The Band Wagon (1953). After the clip, Martin said it reminded him of “how great she was and of how young I looked. Gilda, we miss you.”
Comedy – 2018 – Special Documentary – Celebrates The Love, Life And Legacy Of Comedian Gilda Radner
Radner’s death helped raise awareness of early detection of ovarian cancer and the connection to familial epidemiology. The media attention in the two years after Radner’s death led to registry of 450 families with familial ovarian cancer at the Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry, a research database registry at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. The registry was later renamed the Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry (GRFOCR).
Comedy – 1975 – SNL Skit – “Looks At Books” With Jane Curtin + Guest Emily Litella (Gilda Radner)
In 2002, the ABC television network dedicated a three-hour block of programming to Radner. The evening kicked off with a one-hour special, “Gilda Radner’s Greatest Moments.” Hosted by Saturday Night Live alumna Molly Shannon, the special featured highlights from her career and appearances by friends and co-stars Victor Garber, Kermit the Frog, Eugene Levy, Steve Martin, Paul Shaffer, Lily Tomlin and Barbara Walters. It was followed by a television movie about her life: Gilda Radner: It’s Always Something, starring Jami Gertz as Radner.
Comedy – 1976 – Saturday Night Live Weekend Update With Chevy Chase – Featuring Emily Litella (Gilda Radner) Calling In To News Desk
In 2007, Radner was featured in Making Trouble, a film tribute to female Jewish comedians, produced by the Jewish Women’s Archive. Radner makes two comic book appearances. DC Comics Young Love #122 in 1976 and Marvel Team-Up #74 from 1978. Radner won an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music” for her performance on Saturday Night Live in 1977. She posthumously won a Grammy Award for “Best Spoken Word Or Non-Musical Recording” in 1990.
Comedy – 1983 – Late Night With David Letterman – With Guest Gilda Radner
In 1992, Radner was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame for her achievements in arts and entertainment. Through the generosity of many who participated in the 2002 ABC special, “Gilda Radner’s Greatest Moments,” including Lynda Carter, Victor Garber, Eric Idle, David Letterman, Eugene Levy, Peter Mann, Steve Martin, Mike Myers, Paul Shaffer, Lily Tomlin and The Jim Henson Company, producer/actor James Tumminia spearheaded a campaign to dedicate a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to Gilda. On June 27, 2003, Gilda received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. Saturday Night Live alumna Molly Shannon (and the host of the ABC special) served as Master of Ceremonies at the induction ceremony at which Laraine Newman, Gilda’s Club founder Joanna Bull and Gilda’s brother Michael F. Radner appeared to present the honor.
Comedy – 1979 – Gilda Radner Live From New York – “The Audition”
We at ImaSportsphile are “tickled pink” to have so much Gilda Radner content in our video museum….for as Bone Daddy puts it….“I can still hear the explosion of laughter that rose up from the Bleacher Section at Madison Square Garden (his sports bar) each and every time that Gilda Radner would appear as Roseanne Roseannadana, Babwa Wawa, Emily Litella, Olga Corbett and Patti Smith would come on the big screen…..for it was a laughter that spanned the ages with distinctive memories of fun times had by all.”
News & Comedy – 1989 – Connie Chung Interviews Gilda Radner + Gene Wilder – “Love At First Sight”