My Gilda Radner story
Here’s my Gilda Radner story. I’m barely in it but I play a pivitol role.
I was born in 1981. My parents still lived in New York City at that point and they were walking to my mother’s doctor for my six week checkup… so this must have happened in the middle of March. Their doctor had his office down by Central Park on 80th Street.
So my Mom and Dad are walking down the street, mid-March in the freezing cold… and who should they see but Gilda Radner and she’s walking toward them.
You should probably understand before I tell you the next part of this story that my father’s a fairly reserved person. I’m not saying that he’s not gregarious or anything just… he’s not the type of guy who would normally accost a celebrity on the street as she was going about her daily business.
Dad yells out, “Hi Gilda! This is my son!”
Because of tonight’s 40th Anniversary special, I’ve been reading Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Or, to be more accurate, I’m rereading it for the hundredth time. It’s a wonderful book for fans of the show and more than easily earns the “Uncensored” part of the title. There’s no love lost between the greater amount of people involved with the early days of SNL. Most of them speak frankly about the acrimony and infighting which went into making Saturday Night Live an American institution.
This is why it’s always impressed me to read people’s memories and recollections of Gilda, which are uniformly glowing. To say that she was beloved as a comedian would be something of an understatement. She was so good on that show and SO funny. Pop on any episode of Saturday Night Live from the early 1970’s and see how consistently wonderful she was. Beyond her talent however… her peers also seem to be in agreement about what a wonderful person she was in life. I’m sure a lot of people have read Bill Murray’s final remembrance of her, but appreciation for Gilda goes far beyond those sentiments in the book, from the people who worked with her in the 1970’s and 1980’s to the men and women she inspired in the 1990’s and beyond.
A random guy on the middle of the sidewalk on 80th Street yells at Gilda Radner about his newborn son.
I don’t know any celebrities personally but I get the feeling most of them would have just ignored that guy and kept walking.
Instead, Gilda Radner stops, looks at me, and says to my dad, “Oh, he’s BEAUTIFUL”… then keeps on walking.
…and that’s the end of my Gilda Radner story. I’ve been trying to turn it into a comic for about a year now but it’s just not happening. I thought instead I’d share it here.