Gilda Susan Radner (June 28, 1946 – May 20, 1989) was an American comedian and actress, and one of the seven original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live (1975), with Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garret Morris, and Laraine Newman. In her routines, Radner specialized in parodies of television stereotypes, such as advice specialists and news anchors. In 1978, she won an Emmy Award for her performances on the show. She also portrayed those characters in her highly successful one-woman show on Broadway in 1979. Radner’s SNL work established her as an iconic figure in the history of American comedy.
Films appearances in the 1970s include Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail (1973), with Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, Randy Quaid, Clifton James, Michael Moriarty, and Carol Kane; TV movie The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978), with Eric Idle (who also co-directed), Neil Innes, John Halsey, Ricky Fataar, Michael Palin, George Harrison, Bianca Jagger, Belushi, Aykroyd, and Bill Murray; and Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video (1979), with Michael O’Donoghue (who also directed), Aykroyd, Murray, Newman, Curtin, Carrie Fisher, Terri Garr, Newman, Debbie Harry, and Margot Kidder.
Films in the 1980s include the TV animated film Animalympics (1980), with Billy Crystal, Harry Shearer, and Michael Fremer; Buck Henry’s First Family (1980), with Bob Newhart, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Rip Torn, Austin Pendleton, Fred Willard, and Richard Benjamin; and William Asher’s Movers & Shakers (1985), with Walter Matthau, Charles Grodin, Vincent Gardenia, Tyne Daly, Bill Macy, and Steve Martin.
Radner met Gene Wilder while co-starring in Sidney Poitier’s Hanky Panky (1982), Kathleen Quinlan, Richard Widmark, and Johnny Brown. They married in 1984 and co-starred together in two films directed by Wilder: The Woman in Red (1984), with Grodin, Joseph Bologna, Judith Ivey, and Kelly LeBrock; and Haunted Honeymoon (1986), with Dom DeLuise, Jonathan Pryce, and Paul L. Smith.
When Radner died in 1989 from ovarian cancer, Wilder carried out her wish that information about her illness would be used to help other cancer victims, founding—and inspiring the founding of—organizations that emphasize early diagnosis, attention to hereditary factors and support for cancer patients. Posthumously, she won a Grammy Award in 1990, was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1992, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- The Last Detail (1973) – directed by Hal Ashby
- The Gift of Winter (1974) – directed by John Leach & Isobel Jean Rankin – TV short
- The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978) – directed by Eric Idle & Gary Weis – TV movie
- Witch’s Night Out (1978) – directed by John Leach – TV short
- Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video (1979) – directed by Michael O’Donoghue
- Animalympics (1980) – directed by Steven Lisberger – TV movie
- Gilda Live (1980) – directed by Mike Nichols – also co-writer – concert film
- First Family (1980) – directed by Buck Henry
- Hanky (1982) – directed by Sidney Poitier
- The Woman in Red (1984) – directed by Gene Wilder
- Movers & Shakers (1985) – directed by William Asher
- Haunted Honeymoon (1986) – directed by Gene Wilder
- Love, Gilda (2018) – directed by Lisa Dapolito – archive footage – documentary