Gilda Radner was a popular comedian noted for her performances on Saturday Night Live. Gilda was born in Detroit, Michigan and attended the University of Michigan. Here she studied drama, but later dropped out to pursue a job in Toronto, playing in the rock musical Godspell.

Gilda then joined Second City, an improv comedy group. She later appeared in the National Lampoon Radio Hour and the National Lampoon Show.

When SNL was started, she was one of the original cast members. She wrote skits for it, as well as appearing at least three times a month. Her wacky portrayals of both fictional and real people earned her stardom, along with Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd, and John Belushi. She was awwarded an Emmy for the show in 1978.

The following year, she had her own one-woman show called "Gilda Radner - Live From New York", which was later issued as a video.

Gilda also played in several movies, including The Woman in Red, in which she directed in co-starred with Gene Wilder, whom she later married.

After developing ovarian cancer, she wrote a book about her battle of the disease, titled "It's Always Something". She died of the cancer in 1989, the same year she wrote the book.

Back in the day when Saturday Night Live was a new thing, we seldom missed it. I was in college at the time, and living without a TV. I lived without a TV for several years, and it didn't bother me very much. I also slept on the floor on a mattress for many, many years, even when I could afford a real bed. It all reminds me of a node I read here once about how you might have been happier when your life was crap.

But we'd always go over to Lenny's and Robin's house to watch Saturday Night Live. I think that's the only TV show we'd watch, except for All In the Family. Lenny was from Pittsburgh, and he did love that show.

I guess Saturday Night Live might have had funny cast members since, but I really haven't watched it enough to know. I do know that Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner were comic geniuses. John Belushi was crazy, but I never thought he was any sort of genius.

Gilda was the one. Her characters were so real that they actually were her. Well, one of them was her. She wasn't actually Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, or Baba Wawa. She was, however, Lisa Lupner. She was so Lisa Lupner that I don't even think she, herself, thought of herself as anyone else.

I've seen her stage performance of Gilda, Live on TV a handful of times now. When she comes out on stage as Lisa Lupner and plays the piano while singing The Way We Were, I cry every time. It's hilarious, but it's also just gut-wrenching to think of this wonderful, funny lady being struck down before she could enjoy looking back on it all.

The irony is that, as I write this, my daughter is watching Gilda's husband in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on TV. I think it must have damn near killed him to lose her.

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