CNN’s ‘Love, Gilda’ Pays Homage to the Comic Legend


To watch Gilda Radner in her sketch-comedy prime, during those first formative years of Saturday Night Live in the late 1970s, was to love her. Like a punk Carol Burnett, going fearlessly for a broad laugh no matter how it made her look, she was the most instantly endearing of SNL’s “Not Ready for Prime Time Players.”

Roseanne Roseannadanna. Emily Litella. Lisa Loopner. Baba Wawa. These indelibly funnier-than-life caricatures are testaments to Radner’s incredible range and force of personality. Nearly 30 years after her death at 42 of ovarian cancer, Radner’s life and comic legacy are warmly recalled in director Lisa D’Apolito’s adoring biographical portrait.

Love, Gilda takes an introspective approach, interspersing career highlights with personal audio reflections and journal entries. They reveal a genuine love of live performance, masking insecurities, an eating disorder and chronic loneliness (cured by her 1984 marriage to Gene Wilder). Some of Radner’s writings are read by current comedy greats still in awe of her gifts, including Amy Poehler and Melissa McCarthy. Though ultimately heartbreaking, this is a love letter, gilded with laughter.

Love, Gilda, Documentary Premiere, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 9/8c, CNN