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Gilda Radner sings ‘Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals’
01:24 pm


Gilda Radner

Gilda Radner’s (almost) 1979 one-woman Broadway show “Gilda Radner: Live from New York” ran for 52 performances at the Winter Garden Theatre, the venue which would later host both Cats and Mama Mia. Don Novello (“Father Guido Sarducci”) and Paul Shaffer were also featured in the show.

Although Radner’s live show was a hit with New York audiences, Mike Nichols’ cinematic document of her performance, released as Gilda Live in theaters and on record didn’t fare as well. I had the album when I was a kid and to this day I think I still have most of it memorized. Here’s one of Gilda Live‘s highlights, “Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals”:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The legendary Toronto production of ‘Godspell’ that had half the cast of SCTV in it

Program, Godspell Toronto production
Godspell, the musical version of several biblical parables with music by Stephen Schwartz and book by John-Michael Tebelak, was a spectacle perfectly suited for its times. It was a hippie version of the Bible, complete with a clown concept, and it was jam-packed with great, hummable songs. Having originated at Carnegie Mellon University, it debuted in 1971 off-Broadway in New York City at the La Mama Experimental Theatre Club on the Lower East Side before moving to the Cherry Lane Theatre and the Promenade Theatre—it closed in 1976 after a whopping 2,124 performances.

The Toronto production of Godspell opened at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1972, with an expectation of running for just a few dozen performances. It was a massive hit as well, closing more than a year later after 488 performances. That production is legendary for the budding young talent in the show—including Victor Garber (Alias, Titanic) as Jesus as well as future comedy stars Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Gilda Radner, Dave Thomas, and Martin Short. The show’s musical director was a sassy young fellow named Paul Shaffer.
Dave Thomas and Eugene Levy in Godspell
Dave Thomas and Eugene Levy in Godspell
Radner, of course, would achieve national fame a few years later when she joined the inaugural cast of Saturday Night Live, while Levy, Martin, Short, and Thomas ended up as the core of an experimental sketch comedy show called SCTV.

There’s an exhaustive website dedicated to the production, and it’s chock full of details. Short and Radner dated during the run, but Short ended up marrying Gilda’s understudy, Nancy Dolman. The show was Gilda Radner’s professional stage debut. Dave Thomas was not in the original cast, but he joined the show near the end of its run.
Godspell original cast program
Godspell original cast program
Levy later reminisced about Gilda Radner:

The first image of Gilda was at the final audition for “Godspell.” We were all there. They’d narrowed it down to about 80 people. I just remember this girl getting up on stage and singing “Zippity Do Dah” as her song. I remember thinking, “Oh, this poor girl. She’s so cute, but what a terrible song!” [laughs] And the entire room by the end of the song just fell in love with her, she was so adorable. We always referred to her as the “Zippity Do Dah” girl in the beginning. She was charming and sweet and loved to laugh. She went out with Marty Short for most of the run, and Marty was my roommate, so we were all hanging out. I just remember her always being up and loving to laugh.

In 2011 Martin Short and Paul Shaffer were on Seth Rudetsky’s SiriusXM show “Seth Speaks.” After essaying “It’s Raining Men,” Short and Shaffer decide to close the show with a rousing rendition of “Save the People” from Godspell.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cancer support groups dropping Gilda Radner’s name from heading
05:34 am


Gilda Radner

Gilda Radner
Gilda Radner, in character as Candy Slice, a perpetually strung out rock star who bore a striking resemblance to Patti Smith
After her death from ovarian cancer in 1989, comedian and actress Gilda Radner’s husband Gene Wilder started “Gilda’s Club,” a support group for cancer patients and their loved ones. Gilda’s Club operates under the credo that “no one has to live with cancer alone.” The title was a bit tongue in cheek; in Radner’s book, It’s Always Something, she described cancer as “membership to an elite club I’d rather not belong to.”

Now, however, many local Gilda’s Clubs are dropping her name for fear that it might date the organization or “confuse” possible beneficiaries. The Executive Director of the Madison Wisconsin Gilda’s Club says,

We want to make sure that what we are is clear to them and that there’s not a lot of confusion that would cause people not to come in our doors.

One of the realizations we had this year is that our college students were born after Gilda Radner passed, as we are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis,

I’m in my 20s, and to me, it seems pretty tacky to drop the name of the person your organization was created in commemoration of. You have a history and legacy rooted in the life of a human being, and this just underscores how people who die of cancer eventually become nameless.

I might be biased, though. I love Gilda, and while comedy (even great comedy) rarely has a strong shelf life or intergenerational resonance, her influence and talent still have spark for me.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday John Belushi

Happy Birthday John Belushi, who would have been 62 today. Born in 1949, Belushi’s big break came in 1971 when he joined The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago. Cast alongside Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest in National Lampoon’s Lemmings (which Richard Metzger wrote a great article on last year), Belushi’s natural comic talents shone. He moved to New York, with his girlfriend Judy Jacklin, and became a regular on the National Lampoon Radio Hour, working with such future Saturday Night Live performers Gilda Radner and Bill Murray. The rest we know.

It’ll be SNL and The Blues Brothers that Belushi will be remembered for best, and watching clips of his TV or film work now, only re-enforces what is so sad about his early demise.

Previously on DM

A Young John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest rock out in National Lampoon’s ‘Lemmings’

Bonus clips plus interview with Belushi and Dan Ackroyd after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Gilda Radner’s Patti Smith parody, ‘Candy Slice’
12:28 pm


Patti Smith
Gilda Radner
Candy Slice

Gilda Radner as “Candy Slice,” her Patti Smith-like character from SNL’s glory days of the 70s. In hindsight, “Candy” seems much more like Amy Winehouse, of course, than Patti Smith, who was never much of a “rock-n-roll animal.”

The clip below is from Gilda Live, a document of Radner’s 1979 Broadway show. “Candy Slice & The Slicers” perform “Gimme Mick.” (Didn’t SNL’s writers know that Patti far prefers Keith???)

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Gilda Radner: Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment