Radner was one of the great comic geniuses of the 20th century,
ranked up with 'Lucille Ball' (qv) and other comedy legends of the
highest caliber. She was born on June 28, 1946 in Detroit, the
younger of two children. Her parents were Herman and Henrietta
Radner, and she had an older brother named Michael. She grew up
with a nanny she always called Dibby, on whom she based her famous
SNL character, hard-of-hearing news correspondent Emily Litella.
She was very close to her father, and not as close to her mother,
and tragically, her father died when she was 12, leaving her
heartbroken. She was very overweight as a child, and because of
this she suffered from anorexia and bulimia and became very thin.
She overcame these disorders by 16 and was normal weight, yet if
you watch some of her episodes of _"Saturday Night Live" (1975)_
(qv) you can see that her weight sometimes goes down very low and
she looks anorexic again. She graduated from the Liggett school for
Girls and enrolled at the University of Michigan, but dropped out
and followed a boyfriend to Canada, where she made her stage debut
in Godspell, with 'John Belushi' (qv) also starring. In 1975, Gilda
was the first person ever cast for _"Saturday Night Live" (1975)_
(qv), the show that would make her famous. She stayed on SNL for 5
years, from 1975 to 1980, and had a brief marriage to the SNL band
guitarist G.E. Smith. On this show she created characters like
Emily Litella, loudmouthed Roseanne Roseannadanna, nerd Lisa
Loopner, and Baba Wawa, a talk show host with a speech impediment.
Gilda left the show in 1980 and married actor 'Gene Wilder' (qv),
whom she met on a movie set and fell in love with nearly on the
spot. A short while after, Gilda started having pains in her upper
legs, and she was eventually diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She
went through lots of chemotherapy and treatment, and finally her
doctors told her that she was in remission. In this period of time,
Gilda wrote her autobiography, called "It's Always Something",
about her battles with cancer. However, the doctors were wrong
about her being in remission. Cancer was found in her ovaries after
a more comprehensive check a while later. Now it was too late to do
something. Gilda died in her sleep on May 20, 1989.
Biography courtesy of the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com).