Gilda Radner


I've only mentioned Gilda a small bit on the blog, but after reading the complete treasure of a book that is Live From New York, I of course want to write about her (and Lorne and Chevy and Dana and Eddie and Al and Chris and so forth...) much, much more.  But before you move on to some other post of more interest to you (or website for that matter), I want to share a story that Bill Murray tells in the book that I believe will touch you whether you've heard of her or not.  Gilda ended up dying from ovarian cancer, and here is Bill's account of a time they spent together towards the end of her life.  To give some perspective, Gilda was in the original cast of SNL and stayed for four more seasons.  Bill joined the cast in the second season, and he and Gilda worked together on countless occasions for the show, perhaps most memorably as the nerd couple Todd and Lisa.  Anyway, here's Bill's touching story:

Gilda got married and went away.  None of us saw her anymore.  There was one good thing.  Laraine had a party one night, a great party at her house.  And I ended up being the disc jockey.  She just had forty-fives, and not that many, so you really had to work the music end of it.  There was a collection of like the funniest people in the world at this party.  Somehow Sam Kinison sticks in my brain.  The whole Monty Python group was there, most of us from the show, a lot of other funny people, and Gilda.  Gilda showed up and she'd already had cancer and gone into remission and then had it again, I guess.  Anyway she was slim.  We hadn't seen her in a long time.  And she started doing, "I've got to go," and she was just going to leave, and I was like, "Going to leave?"  It felt like she was really going to leave forever.

So we started carrying her around, in a way that we could only do with her.  We carried her up and down the stairs, around the house, repeatedly, for a long time, until I was exhausted.  Then Danny [Akroyd] did it for a while.  Then I did it again.  We just kept carrying her; we did it in teams.  We kept carrying her around, but like upside down, every which way--over your shoulder and under your arm, carrying her like luggage.  And that went on for more than an hour--maybe an hour and a half--just carrying her around saying, "She's leaving!  This could be it!  Now come on, this could be the last time we see her.  Gilda's leaving, and remember that she was very sick--hello?"

We worked all aspects of it, but it started with just, "She's leaving.  I don't know if you've said good-bye to her."  And we said good-bye to the same people ten, twenty times, you know.

And because these people we really funny, every person we'd drag her up to would just do like five minutes on her, with Gilda upside down in this sort of tortured position, which she absolutely loved.  She was laughing so hard we could have lost her right then and there.

It was just one of the best parties I've ever been to in my life.  I'll always remember it.  It was the last time I saw her.


pollyanna cowgirl said...

I was randomly looking for some Gilda /Bill Murray SNL sketches to show my bf, who has never seen them, and happened upon your blog. She was so amazing, wasn't she! Thanks for the post.

Maryann said...

Welcome! I'm having a hard time finding any sketches of them too. Might just have to break down and buy the DVDs :). She certainly was amazing.

Diego said...

Great post! Netflix has all the seasons on streaming btw :P