I read with extreme shock that several of the Gilda’s Clubs around the country were going to change their names Cancer Support Community because many people, especially the young ones, who come in for help don’t know who Gilda Radner was. What a lame reason.
Gene Wilder founded Gilda’s Club which has gone worldwide after her death from Ovarian cancer in 1989. The name comes from a quote of Radner: “Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I’d rather not belong to.” If you remember, Radner was one of the first women in public to talk about cancer and wrote the unbelievably moving memoir about her life and her disease, It’s Always Something.
Gilda died way too young, but her legacy is strong both in her comedy and in the work of Gilda’s Club. Had there been no Gilda Radner they would be no Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig and Rebel Wilson. All the women in comedy stand on her shoulders and the shoulders of the other groundbreaking women who were a part of the early years of Saturday Night Live.
If young people don’t know who Gilda Radner is, the Club’s which bear her name have an obligation to talk about who she was and why her legacy is important to the work of the cancer community.
To add insult to injury, Gene Wilder didn’t even get notified that they were changing the name until her was told about it during an interview.
Here’s a reminder of why we need to remember Gilda Radner.
Gilda’s Club (Alan Zweibel)
Gilda Radner Remembered (Web2Carz)