Like many comics before her, and after, Gilda Radner was looking for love. Born in Detroit to a middle-class family, her father whom she loved dearly died when she was fourteen. Chubby as a child, the film states her mother, a beautiful looking woman, forced Gilda to take diet pills and repeatedly stressed the importance of being thin. Gilda, feeling unattractive found out she was funny and discovered people liked funny people.
Love, Gilda is filled with archival footage from her days at Second City, National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live. This footage alone makes the film worth watching. We get insight into her inspiration for some of her famous characters like Rosanne Rosannadana. Home movies, archival film and behind the scene film along with plenty of still photos, both professional and personal, as well as her contemporaries add to her story.
Directed by Lisa D’Apolito, Love, Gilda is a charming, concise,and straight forwar documentary about her career and her search for love which she finally found with her second marriage to actor Gene Wilder. Sadly, ovarian cancer would take her life far too early.
On a personal note, a few years ago when this project was in its infancy I received an email, it may have been from D’Apolito or an associate I don’t remember, that they saw a photograph I took of Gilda back in the late 1970’s around the time of the release of her new LP, Gilda Radner – Live From New York. It was taken at Saks 5th Avenue when Gilda was signing autograph copies of the LP. I shot a series of photos while she engaged with her fans. The filmmakers wanted to use the photograph in the documentary and would add my name to the credits. I agreed. Unfortunately, for me at least, I learned via another email that the Radner estate did not want to use the photograph. I’m not sure why, but my photo was out.
That said, Love, Gilda has nothing groundbreaking, the film is done in a traditional linear style, but D’Apolito and her crew provide an excellent sense of affection and love for its subject. They truly love Gilda.