The first Gilda's Club, opened in New York in 1995, was started in memory of television comedy star Gilda Radner, whose career had been cut short by ovarian cancer.
Gilda Radner (1946-1989) rose to stardom as part of the first cast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which debuted in 1975.
Memorable characters she brought to life included talkative Roseanne Roseannadana and the somewhat confused Emily Litella, commentators on the show’s TV news parody, Weekend Update.
The wit, timing and physical energy of her comedy style prompted comparisons to Lucille Ball, but Radner’s career was cut short by ovarian cancer.
Radner, who split her time between New York and California, received help from The Wellness Community, a Santa Monica-based support group. She said she regretted being unable to find a similar organization on the East Coast.
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After Radner’s death, her actor/director husband, Gene Wilder, along with her psychotherapist, Joanna Bull, worked to create the first Gilda’s Club, which opened in New York in 1995.
Gilda’s Club Worldwide and The Wellness Community began working together in 2009 and last year officially merged as the Cancer Support Community.
— Jack Broom