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.