Who is Gilda Radner?
Gilda Susan Radner, born on the 28th of June, 1946, was an American actress, comedian, and writer who became famous as one of the original cast members of the show “Saturday Night Live.” She became known for her sketches and parodies of famous personalities in the show, and for her movies with husband Gene Wilder. Gilda passed away in 1989.
Gilda Radner’s Early Life
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Radner was the daughter of a legal secretary – Henrietta Dworkin – and businessman Herman Radner, and was of Jewish descent; she had an older brother named Michael. Growing up, she felt closest to his father, who would take her to New York just to see shows on Broadway.During her younger years, Radner attended University Liggett School in Detroit, where at that time she began having problems with eating disorders. She then attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, but dropped-out in her senior year to follow her then boyfriend to Canada.
Gilda Radner’s Career in Comedy
Radner’s career began in 1972 when she made her acting debut in the production of “Godspell”, alongside other comedians Eugene Levy, Victor Garber, Andrea Martin, Paul Shaffer and Martin Short. This exposure led her to join the popular Toronto comedy troupe called The Second City.In 1974, Radner moved to New York and joined “The National Lampoon Radio Hour” with Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and John Belushi among others. The comedy radio show became a hit with listeners, and ran from 1973 to 1974. These early years as a comedian helped establish her career and also her net worth.
In 1975, Radner received one of her big career breakthroughs when she became part of the original cast of “Saturday Night Live.” The different late-night comedy program introduced a new generation of comics, and became a big success with the audience. Radner created characters that would later on become icons in the world of comedy, which included Baba Wawa, a parody of Barabara Walters, Roseanne Roseannadanna, a horrible expert on giving personal advice, and Emily Litella, inspired by her nanny when she was a child and who would become known for her hot-tempered attitude and false information during “Weekend Update.” She stayed with the show until 1980, and gained an Emmy Award along the way. The success of “Saturday Night Live” and her characters as well, helped establish her as one of the premier comedians of her time, and tremendously increased her wealth.
Gilda Radner in Acting
In 1980, Radner transitioned into acting, starring in a couple of films with actor Gene Wilder, who would later become her husband. In 1982 they starred in “Hanky Panky”, and followed with “The Woman in Red” in 1984 and also “Haunted Honeymoon” in 1986. Although not all of their movies became huge hits, it established their team-up, and also helped boost her net worth.
Gilda Radner’s Net Worth
Based on authoritative sources and as of 2018, Radner’s net worth would be over $3 million, acquired from her years as an actress and comic.
Gilda Radner’s Personal Life
In terms of her personal life, Radner was first married to G.E. Smith, a musician, from 1980 until their relationship ended in divorce in 1982. In 1982, while working in a movie Radner met actor Gene Wilder, and the two fell in love and married in 1984 in Saint-Tropez, remaining together until she passed away in 1989.
Gilda Radner’s Illness
In 1985, after experiencing fatigue in her upper legs and after 10 months of consulting various doctors and specialists, Radner was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. She underwent surgery and had a hysterectomy to remove a grapefruit-sized tumor in her abdomen. After being told that she was already into remission, she decided to write a memoir entitled “It’s Always Something.” In the book she shared all her life struggles from her personal family life and even her career.
In 1988, Radner decided to undergo maintenance chemotherapy to continue her remission. Unfortunately, that same year her cancer had returned, and in 1989, she went into a coma and passed away three days later on 20 May 1989, in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Gene Wilder was devastated, and subsequently launched the Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai, to run diagnostic tests and in particular screen high-risk candidates (such as women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent). In front of a Congressional committee, he testified that Gilda’s condition had been misdiagnosed, particularly as her grandmother, aunt, and cousin all died of ovarian cancer, and therefore her disease might have been attacked earlier had doctors inquired more deeply into her family background.