Love, Gilda (2018)
In her own words, comedienne Gilda Radner looks back and reflects on her life and career. Weaving together recently discovered audiotapes, interviews with her friends, rare home movies and diaries read by modern day comediennes (including Amy Poehler), LOVE Gilda offers a unique window into the honest and whimsical world of a beloved performer whose greatest role was sharing her story.
The life of actress/comedienne Gilda Radner is presented largely through audio recordings of herself and through her handwritten notes, some read by fellow comedians/comediennes influenced by her work, some, like her, Saturday Night Live (1975) (SNL) alumnae. That life is told largely in chronological order. It tells of her growing up period in a relatively affluent family in Detroit, Michigan, and losing her father, who she considered her best friend at the time, when she was fourteen. The story moves to her not finishing college in the University of Michigan's drama program to pursue love - she easily falling in love with various men over the course of her life, most of those men professional colleagues - which led to her start in performing professionally on stage in a number of comedy troupes, where she seemed to be at home. Her professional success, even in those early days, can be largely attributed to she being likable no matter who she was portraying which connected her to the audience, and her willingness to do anything on stage to get the laugh if something as scripted wasn't working. Her reputation in this comedy work led to her being the first person cast on what would be the groundbreaking SNL. Despite the success, she felt much pressure, she hiding an eating disorder in order to maintain the Hollywood body image, which for her was especially prevalent in her mind in having battled weight issues as child. The difficult transition from SNL focuses on her meeting Gene Wilder on the set of Hanky Panky (1982), falling in love (despite already being married at the time) and getting married. Her story's final chapter is the roller coaster, especially in the emotional sense, in dealing with ovarian cancer, which would eventually take her life in 1989.
- The documentary covers the life of comedienne Gilda Radner. Like most documentaries, home movies of her growing up are shown. Mixed with this are interviews with comedians and actors who worked with her. What makes this doc special are the audio tapes narrated by Gilda herself.
Gilda was born and grew up in Detroit. Her father took her to the theater thus igniting Gilda's passion to appear on stage. Two years later he died from a brain tumor. This left her with her brother, her mother and a nanny. Later the nanny would be the basis for her character of Emily Litella on 'Saturday Night Live'.
Following high school graduation Gilda enrolled at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. But Gilda still wanted to perform so she dropped out and moved to Toronto. In Toronto she was cast in Stephen Schwartz musical 'Godspell'. She performed alongside Martin Short to music performed by Paul Schaffer. Short, Schaffer and Schwartz interviews looked back on the Toronto performance. Gilda then joined the Second City Troupe in Toronto.
From there Gilda went to the National Lampoon Radio Hour where she performed with Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and John Belushi. Then off to fame as the first performer ever cast on 'Saturday Night Liv'e. Lorne Michaels produced SNL and clips of his interview form the basis of the 'Saturday Night Live' segment of the documentary. Cast members interviewed were Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and then writer now performer Bill Hader.
In 1980 Gilda left Saturday Night Live and was briefly married to guitarist G.E. Smith but the love of her life was comic actor Gene Wilder. Gilda seemed to have found what she needed in Wilder. Their marriage lasted 5 years until she died from Ovarian cancer. But in her 43 years she created Emily Litella, Roseanne Roseanadanna, Baba Wawa, and many others.
This loving documentary shows us some of the memorable characters created by comedienne/icon Gilda Radner.