Gilda Radner was one of the great comic geniuses of the 20th century, ranked alongside Lucille Ball and other comedy legends of the highest caliber. Born on June 28, 1946 in Detroit, Michigan, Gilda Radner is best known as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, where she won an Emmy Award for her work in 1978.
Some of her most memorable characters were Roseanne Roseannadanna, Baba Wawa, Emily Litella and Lisa Loopner. She was the first person to be cast in the first season of SNL and was joined by Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, and Laraine Newman. In 1980, Gilda left SNL and married fellow comedian Gene Wilder, whom she met on the set of the film Hanky Panky.
In October of 1986, Gilda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. During the course of her treatment, Joanna Bull, Gilda’s cancer psychotherapist, introduced her to cancer support groups. Recognizing how integral the support experience was to her treatment, Gilda’s dream was to develop a community where anyone with cancer would receive the kind of support she had found. In her best-selling book, “It’s Always Something”, Gilda wrote about her experience living with cancer. She spoke of establishing such a support community in New York when she felt better and said, “There should be a thousand of them.”
Gilda’s ovarian cancer was diagnosed too late for effective treatment and she died in 1989. Following her death, Gilda’s husband, actor and comedian Gene Wilder, Joanna Bull and many of Gilda’s friends founded Gilda’s Club in her memory and opened its signature Red Door in June 1995.