Friday, January 15, 2010

Forgotten Gems: "Gilda Live"

Yesterday's post asked something about bringing a celebrity back to life and who you would choose. I chose Gilda Radner and said "The world needs more Gildas." And I meant that. I can count the number of celebrity deaths that actually made me sad on one hand. News of Gilda's death from ovarian cancer, delivered live by Steve Martin on SNL, is probably the one that made me the saddest of all.

As an original cast member of Saturday Night Live's "Not Ready for Prime-Time Players," Gilda quickly became known for a series of hilarious characters, many of them based on family and friends she'd grown up with, as well as celebrity parodies no one else was doing (or could do). Whether it was playing advice columnist Rosanne Rosannadanna (pictured); hearing impaired substitute teacher Emily Litella; nerdy Lisa Lupner; hyper-active Brownie Judy Miller or drug-addled rocker Patti Smith, Gilda's total abandon into silliness, just to make an audience laugh was without par.

In 1979, Gilda got her own Broadway show and director Mike Nichols filmed it, preserving forever some of the funniest work from one the funniest women who ever lived. The film also features a hilarious performance from Don Novello as Father Guido Sarducci, possibly the most politically incorrect Italian character ever...

Yes, that's Paul Schaffer as Candy's drummer.

And just because I loved her so, here's some more of Gilda's brilliance:

Sadly, from what should have been a nonsensical marriage of epic proportions, the films made with her husband Gene Wilder are just terrible. Yes, even The Woman in Red, though Haunted Honeymoon is undoubtedly the worst of them (and sadly, Gilda's last). Her legacy lives on through Gilda's Club, a non-profit organization providing support for cancer patients and their families. Who knows what heights of silliness Gilda might have achieved? I'm just glad we have records of some of her best.

If you've never seen it, put Gilda Live in your Netflix queue; even if you don't get the late '70's topical references, there's enough character-driven humor to make you laugh a whole lot. If, like Uncle Prospero, you saw all those great SNL moments and haven't seen Gilda Live in a while, funny is always funny, especially if you haven't seen it in a while. "Oh! My cheechnos!"

More, on Sunday.


Stephen said...

I miss her to this day. said...

I too miss her. I've introduced my children to her, and they love her!!

I am very upset that the cancer support group named "Gilda's Club" in Madison, Wisconsin, is dropping her name off the group.

There is public outcry beginning.

Please help the word get out to save Gilda's name.

There is a petition on and the Facebook page of the Madison Gilda's Club is getting feedback from many folks.

Gilda is still alive in our hearts and souls. I remember the day after she died, I went to get the Miami Herald and saw her picture on the cover as I opened the paper box. I cried and cried. I had my baby in the car and looked at her, and thought: Gilda helped get the word out about ovarian cancer.

Her book "It's always something" shows us all many good ways to get through anything.

please help spread the word to keep Gilda's name on her Club.

thank you, and I LOVE your site!!


Prospero said...

Thanks, Jaime!