About Gilda Susan Radner
Gilda Susan Radner was an American comedienne and actress, best known for her five years as part of the original cast of the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, for which she won an Emmy Award. Radner's death at age 42 from ovarian cancer helped increase public awareness of the disease and the need for earlier detection and treatment.
She was born on June 28, 1946 in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Jewish parents Henrietta (née Dworkin), a legal secretary, and Herman Radner, a businessman. She grew up in Detroit with a nanny, Elizabeth Clementine Gillies, whom she called "Dibby" (and on whom she based her famous character Emily Litella), and an older brother named Michael. She attended the University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe. Radner wrote in her autobiography It's Always Something toward the end of her life, "I coped with stress by having every possible eating disorder from the time I was nine years old. I have weighed as much as 160 pounds and as little as 93. When I was a kid, I overate constantly. My weight distressed my mother and she took me to a doctor who put me on Dexedrine diet pills when I was ten years old."
Once a theater student in college, she became a member of the renowned Toronto-based comedy troupe Second City, performing with Dan Aykroyd and John Candy.
Gilda Radner was selected by producer Lorne Michaels to join the cast of a new late-night comedy program called Saturday Night Live in 1975. She stayed on the show for five years, creating such legendary characters as Roseanne Rosannadanna, the annoying newswoman, and Baba Wawa, a parody of Barbara Walters. She performed with many emerging comic stars, including John Belushi and Bill Murray.
Facing her greatest challenge with humor, Gilda Radner battled ovarian cancer in the late 1980s. She wrote about her experiences in It's Always Something (1989). She died on May 20 of that same year. She was married to comedic actor Gene Wilder. A women’s cancer support organization, Gilda’s Club, was established in honor of her memory.