|Image by Reckon|
Both Gilda Radner and Jim Henson died when I was in 6th grade, and I took it really hard at the time. At an age when I was figuring out who I was and what was important to me, I felt like all the awesome people were disappearing and I felt really helpless. Is it weird for an 11-year-old to cry a lot about celebrity deaths? Well. I'm a hardened old crone now, but lots of things affected me deeply as a kid.
On Twitter, I found that our feelings about Gilda are inextricably mixed in with memories of our moms. For a time when I was little, it was a ritual for me to get to eat popcorn in my parents' room while we'd watch reruns of the first few seasons of SNL. It was so great. Sketches I loved: Land Shark, The Vomitorium, Nerds, and the Judy Miller Show. My mom is also hilarious and an inspiration to me, and these times are among the memories I cherish the most (and I don't throw around the word "cherish," okay?). I can't think of a better introduction to comedy.
Gilda wasn't perfect (her book talks about her weird childhood, hardcore bulimia, and body issue struggles); but she was fucking hilarious with an edge of warmth that made her irresistible . So much comedy is mean, rooted in bitterness and anger and insecurity, and while I love that stuff (see: David Cross), it's refreshing to see that it is possible to be funny without being mean. I think Gilda had that skill. As a comedian, she let it all hang out in the greatest way, gawky and goofy and crazy and girly and adorable. A silly role model. I feel very strongly that silliness is a virtue that so many people feel forced to stifle as they get older, and there has to be way to be a responsible adult without suppressing that.
And I haven't even mentioned what she did to change the atmosphere of women's health. Also huge. I don't think women would be able to talk about cancer as openly as they do today if she hadn't shared her story the way she did.
|Did you know about this? Such a boss.|
That said, sometimes they can pack a wallop, even if it only lasts for two seconds after you finish reading. Here's one from Gilda, probably from her autobiography It's Always Something*, which is a read that is both fun and heartbreaking.
So there you go. That's why we love Gilda. Her life is worth celebrating, and I hope her legacy continues to grow.
While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die - whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness.
*If you want to read more about Gilda' lovability from the people who knew her best, I recommend Live From New York by Tom Shales. It's a huge compendium of SNL stories and also has lots osf juicy bits about Chevy Chase's chronic assholery.