Born on this day in Detroit, Michigan, comedienne Gilda Radner (1946-1989) was a petite fireball of talent and the first woman hired for Saturday Night Live.
On SNL, the wonderful comedian dazzled as rock singer Candy Slice, goofy teenager Lisa Loobner, and obnoxious reporter Roseanne Roseannadanna. Huggable, witty, like a precocious sister. She made us laugh...
Then she inspired us with her brave battle against ovarian cancer.
"Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club that I'd rather not belong to," she admitted in her biography, It's Always Something, a candid recount of her struggles, hopes, and frustrations with cancer. She battled the disease for over two years, going through nine rounds of chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatments.
Upbeat Gilda made the best of each day. "Now I've learned the hard way," she observed, "that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end."
In 1995, six years after her death, Gilda's Club opened in New York City to provide a place "of participation, education, hope, and friendship to be made available for people with cancer and their families and friends everywhere."
With the welcome of "Living with cancer? Come as you are," additional clubhouses have opened worldwide: Chicago, Detroit, London, Montreal, Toronto, Nashville, Grand Rapids, and more...
Writer George Bernard Shaw once observed about the depth of comedy, "When a thing is funny, search it for a hidden truth." For Gilda, the truth of her courage... and the delightful images of her performances brought the bittersweet ambiguity of tears... and laughter.
Laughter soars higher than all pain.