Gilda Radner’s Lasting Legacy: ‘SNL’ Pioneer Set the Bar for Using Her Celebrity to Help Others Facing Cancer

Gilda Radner was worried no one would remember her.In 1988, as she grappled with ovarian cancer, Radner’s longtime friend and collaborator Alan Zweibel was persuading her to do a guest shot on his Showtime series “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” one night as they walked along the sand in Santa Monica.Radner was hesitant.

The toll that cancer and chemotherapy had taken on her body, plus the fact that she hadn’t been on TV much in years, made the “Saturday Night Live” and Second City legend nervous about facing a studio audience.“Just as I was about to say ‘Gilda, don’t be stupid,’ she stopped short and said, ‘But you know something, Zweibel, I have to do your show,’” he recalls.

“‘Comedy is the only weapon I have against this fucker.’”Radner’s salty defiance was a prime example of her courageous spirit.

More than three

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