Unfortunately, Gilda Radner died on May 20th, 1989 after a long battle with ovarian cancer, and the world was left with her performances on Saturday Night Live and the various movies that she was in during her short career. She also wrote an autobiography called It’s Always Something after she was diagnosed with cancer, which is an amazing read if you ever get around to it.
What I want to tell you all about, though, is a quietly published book called Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner – A Sort of Love Story by Alan Zweibel. At the very first writer’s meeting of Saturday Night Live, a petrified Alan hid behind a potted plant hoping not to be seen by his fellow writers and the incredibly intimidating Lorne Michaels. It was there, behind that plant, that he was found by Gilda Radner, who wanted him to help her write the dialogue of a parakeet that she was hoping to play in a sketch. From that point on, they developed a working relationship and friendship that spanned the rest of her life.
What I love about Bunny Bunny is that it is a compilation of conversations, phone calls, and notes between Alan and Gilda during their friendship. It has given me a sneak peek into what Gilda was like on a more personal note, and watching her and Alan’s relationship develop is a story that is so relate-able, you can’t help but keep turning the pages.
Creative relationships are tricky to handle. Often times you work with a person because you admire them — their strengths are your weaknesses and vice versa. This admiration and interaction more often than not fosters a deep love that can only be compared to that of someone who is related by blood. That is the love that Alan and Gilda had for each other.
Not only is Bunny Bunny a beautiful affirmation on the power of friendship, but it is also a quick read that can easily be finished in an afternoon. You’ll laugh until whatever you’re drinking shoots out of your nose, and you’ll probably also be emotionally wrecked for a few days afterward. Be prepared.
Like Alan Zweibel says in the foreword of the book:
“Writers are lucky. Whatever the mood, no matter the longing, the writer can use his words to connect himself to any world he wishes to visit. I happen to like my world very much: I am happily married. I have the three best children in existence and two loving parents. But I still miss my friend Gilda. A lot. So, in an attempt to connect, the lucky writer grabbed his pen and relived his most cherished memories of a relationship that, despite death, is still very much alive.”