Published on July 9, 2016
Gilda Susan Radner
(June 28, 1946 – May 20, 1989) was an American comedian and actress. She is best remembered as an original cast member of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. In her routines, Radner specialized in broad and obnoxious parodies of television stereotypes such as annoying advice specialists and news anchors. She also portrayed these characters in her successful one-woman show on Broadway in 1979. When Radner died from ovarian cancer in 1989, her legacy from SNL established her as an important figure in the history of American comedy, and her widower, Gene Wilder, carried out her wish that information about her illness could help others.
Jerome Silberman (born June 11, 1933), known professionally as Gene Wilder,
is an American stage and screen comic actor, screenwriter, and author.
Wilder began his career on stage, and made his screen debut in the TV-series Armstrong Circle Theatre in 1962. Although his first film role was portraying a hostage in the 1967 motion picture Bonnie and Clyde, Wilder’s first major role was as Leopold Bloom in the 1968 film The Producers for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. This was the first in a series of collaborations with writer/director Mel Brooks, including 1974’s Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, which Wilder co-wrote, garnering the pair an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Wilder is known for his portrayal of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and for his four films with Richard Pryor: Silver Streak (1976), Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989), and Another You (1991). Wilder has directed and written several of his films, including The Woman in Red (1984).
His third wife was actress Gilda Radner, with whom he starred in three films. Her death from ovarian cancer led to his active involvement in promoting cancer awareness and treatment, helping found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founding Gilda’s Club.
Since his most recent contribution to acting in 2003, Wilder has turned his attention to writing. He has produced a memoir in 2005, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art; a collection of stories, What Is This Thing Called Love? (2010); and the novels My French Whore (2007), The Woman Who Wouldn’t (2008) and Something to Remember You By (2013).
Marriage to Gene Wilder
Radner met actor Gene Wilder on the set of the Sidney Poitier film Hanky Panky, when the two worked together making the film. She described their first meeting as “love at first sight”. She was unable to resist her attraction to Wilder as her marriage to guitarist G. E. Smith deteriorated. Radner went on to make a second film with Wilder, The Woman in Red, released in 1984, and their relationship grew. The two were married on September 18, 1984, in Saint-Tropez. The pair made a third film together, Haunted Honeymoon, released in 1986. The film received negative reviews. They remained married until her death in 1989.