Gilda Radner, the first cast member to be hired for Saturday Night Live, was honoured on Wednesday night at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.
A new documentary about the life, career, and legacy of the Jewish actress and comedian, Love, Gilda, opened the festival in New York and was introduced by another famous SNL veteran, Tina Fey.
She said that Ms Radner had been an inspiration for her and her fellow SNL cast members. “I can personally attest, and I feel comfortable speaking for Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Rachel Dratch when I say that seeing Gilda as a kid, and she was so lovely, but she was also so authentically herself and so regular in so many ways.
“She was not a piece of casting, she was who she was on TV. We all saw that and said, ‘I want to do that, and it’s possible because I see her doing that.’”
Radner was born in Detroit in 1948. She majored in drama at the University of Michigan before landing a role in the musical Godspell, despite never graduating. Moving to Toronto she joined the comedy troupe Second City alongside Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Bill Murray.
She appeared in a number of films an TV shows but remains most famous for her tenure on SNL from 1975-80 and for which she won an Emmy in 1978. Her most famous SNL characters included Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, and the Barbara Walters spoof, Baba Wawa
Fey continued in her tribute to the actress: “It was an early example for me of how important representation is, for everyone from every walk of life. Gilda was our equivalent of Michelle Obama.”
Radner, who was married to Gene Wilder, died in 1989 after suffering from ovarian cancer.