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Diatribe: Renaming “Gilda’s Club” Insults Radner’s Memory.



Saturday Night Live was one of the television shows that, as a youngster, my parents probably didn’t want me to watch.  It was on late at night, after all, for a reason.  The humor that it contained was  clearly aimed at an adult audience and, in its early years, was often very controversial.  Naturally, that made it all the more appealing.

Of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players, my favorite was always Gilda Radner.  The characters that she created and portray always made me laugh.  They still do.  Of those characters, one of the greatest was Emily Litella.

Radner’s death from ovarian cancer at the age of 42 helped increase public awareness of the disease and the need for earlier detection and treatment.  It was at this time that Gilda’s widower, Gene Wilder, and many of the Emmy Award winner’s friends founded Gilda’s Club in her memory.

“Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I’d rather not belong to.” – Gilda Rander

Recently, however, the Madison, Wisconsin-area chapter of Gilda’s Club decided to change its name allegedly in part because of concerns that many don’t know who Radner was and that most college students were born after Radner died in May 1989.  The change angered many Radner fans who saw the action as a slight to a woman who confronted cancer with dignity and humor and whose name recognition has raised funds that have helped countless cancer victims to confront their diagnoses.

In 2009, Gilda’s Club joined forces with The Wellness Community to become the Cancer Support Community which provides the highest quality emotional and social support through a network of nearly fifty local affiliates, more than one hundred satellite locations and online.  Representatives of the national group believe there is no evidence that young people are unfamiliar with Radner and the name change was motivated by the desire to make the Madison organization’s mission clear.

“Gilda Radner is very much a part of the fiber of this organization.  There has never been an intent and there is no intent to lose Gilda as part of the organization.” – Linda House, Cancer Support Community

In light of the Madison decision, other chapters across the country have reaffirmed that they have no intention of changing their names.  Keeping Radner’s smiling face attached to the project can do no harm.  I think the chapter in Madison, Wisconsin might better serve their community by taking better advantage of the brilliant comedienne’s legacy.

I don’t think what’s going on in Madison is funny.

Do you think that changing the name will do more harm than good?

UPDATE 01/23/13Wisconsin Chapter Says “Never Mind” To Removing Gilda Radner’s Name.


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From → Diatribes

  1. Poor Gilda. It’s always something.


  2. I don’t like it but I don’t know that I disagree. In many instances, name based/founded charities benefit directly from that name. However, if the group fails to keep the name front and center and the public begins to forget or not know the person, then a name change may keep the charity prosperous.

    I loved Gilda but she was barely A list, she didn’t live long enough to become a legend on talent and not from dying to soon.


  3. I would love to see them use the opportunity to promote Gilda’s name and what she did to entertain us. I was partial to Roseanne Roseannadanna. “It makes me want to puke,” was a popular phrase. Justajeepguy has made a good point that should be considered, but if they re-promote her name, maybe a new generation could see her greatness.Thanks, BTG


  4. I think instead of re-naming the charity they should do a better job of promoting Gilda Radner to make sure her memory & her untimely death from cancer is a warning to young women everywhere, no matter their age. Her light was snuffed out way too early!


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