Thursday, August 02, 2012

Gilda Radner Debuts on Broadway on This Day in 1979

With thanks to Kevin Sessums, who reminds us that on this date in 1979, the late and wonderfully sweet and talented Gilda Radner opened her one-woman show on Broadway, "Gilda Radner: Live From New York." I've written about this before, but it's worth repeating on this occasion, that I had a such a bizarre love for Gilda as a boy, and felt protective of her, perhaps in the same way my predecessors cared for Judy Garland. How bizarre, you ask? I sobbed uncontrollably the day I found out she got married in 1980 -- I was 12 -- yet I didn't even know why. (Do I know why today?) Coincidentally, the man she wed would end up becoming a neighbor of mine, G.E. Smith. Gilda's Broadway show was hilarious -- I used to play the soundtrack over and over and over again, just as Gilda says she did Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner's "2000-Year-Old Man" ... in the basement ... or rec room. I know every word of it by heart 30-some years later -- from "Let's Talk Dirty to the Animals" and "Love to Be Unhappy," to Lisa Looper's version of "The Way We Were" and Candy Slice's "Gimme Mick." But the song that made the show for me -- and still brings tears to my eyes today -- is "Honey (Touch Me With My Clothes On)," which I believe to be the most romantic song of all time. The audience starts off laughing at first -- it's Gilda Radner, after all -- but by the time it's over, you'll be lonesome for a more innocent time, and equally lonesome for a time when Gilda was still with us. We miss you, Gilda ...



Prospero said...

I can't think of any other performer in history who I actively miss more than Gilda.

Ron said...

My first post on your site :)

I too had a love affair with Gilda (what gay boy/man did not)
I have been thinking about her and this show for days, now I know why.
I never saw this show live, but have seen the movie several times. Loved seeing it on the big screen. Had the record & then the CD.
I remember a friend of mine, 32+ yrs ago bringing a poster of her over for me because we both loved her so.
I remember seeing her on TV (Garry Shandling's Show) after she started fighting cancer and crying because we were so happy she was back. Then shortly after she died. I cried again.
I then cried like a baby while reading her book after she died. I was in tears as I got to the end of the book because I knew it was the end. I love the story she shares about the dog & puppies at the end of the book.
I miss her. I miss that time.
Gilda was one of a kind! A true treasure. A friend although I never knew her. Still with us after all these years.

Dave said...

Wow I forgot just how much I miss her. Even now, I can't help but tear up at our loss. She was certainly one of a kind!

Bart said...

I wish GILDA LIVE! would be released on DVD or Blu-Ray soon!!

We still miss you, Gilda - 23 years later, your genius is still missed!!

CK said...

You are so amazing. I recently bought that Gilda window card on ebay and can't wait to frame it. I remember when that show was at the Winter Garden and that large billboard above the theater had several alternate images from that shoot going looked so stunning. I cried like a baby when I heard she died.

Thanks for the great post.

James said...

I read your blog every day and enjoy it, first time to post a comment.

Thanks for posting this video. It is hard to believe it's been so long! It was just as charming and touching as the first time I saw it, when the show was released on videotape, looking almost like the quality of the video clip!

I just started to cry. I was happy to see her because I loved her as a performer so much. Never understood why she had to be taken so early. The song is also so darn sweet! So innocent. So unlike today. I still miss her and I thank you for helping me remember how great she was.

Tom said...

There is almost never a week that goes by that "Let's Talk Dirty to the Animals" doesn't cross my mind. When I was in high school, I had the Farrah poster on one wall (a gift from my dad) and a Roseanne RosannaDanna poster on another. My dad never understood that one. He would always look at it and just shake his head, and I would laugh. But I got it. Gilda was, no matter what character she was playing, one of the greatest comedians ever. She was one of a kind.

Anonymous said...

Little known fact: before Chevy Chase and John Belushi, Gilda was the very first SNL cast member hired by Lorne Michaels.

And for those of us who loved Gilda and her truly brilliant comedy -- to me every bit the comedian as Lucille Ball -- IMHO, Gilda's best performance was as author of her autobiography, "It's Always Something!"

Mikee said...

While I'm a huge fan of her work on SNL, this is my first encounter with her Broadway Show. Gilda can brighten up the gloomiest of days with a mere smile. Her contagious joy for life lives on through each performance. Thanks for reminding us to share a simple kiss as if it were our first.

Darren said...

Thank you so much for the great article and bringing back great memories. I wore the LP out back in the day.

I think there may be an error in the article. Rhonda Weiss sang Good-Bye Saccharin. Gimme Mick was by Candy Slice.

Not being critical, just for accuracy.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Darren: Thanks for the fix!

Mu said...

I adored her on SNL and played her Broadway show album to ruins. I too cried when I heard she passed on. She was one of a kind and I miss her so much. Thanks for the reminder.

James Greenlee said...

In high school (early 80s) me an my best friend (both gay, neither ready to admit it) played the Gilda Live record all the time. I feel the same way about Gilda, oddly protective. I not only cried the day she died, I cried when the Bloom County comic strip memorialized her! And I'm widely known to have the compassion of a rock.

I have very similar feelings for Madeline Kahn. Those are my two most crushing celebrity deaths.

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