Willy Wonka actor Gene Wilder died on Sunday, he was 83. His wife comedienne Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989.
Gilda Radner is known for roles like “Saturday Night.” Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner, America’s comedic sweethearts got married in 1984, and lived at their Connecticut country home.
They met in 1981while filming “Hanky Panky.” The two reportedly fell in love after seeing each other. But, Gilda was then married to guitarist GE Smith.
She divorced her husband in 1982 and married Gene Wilder in 1984. Their movie, “The Women In Red” was released the same year. In 1996 they worked together again in “Haunted Honeymoon” and it is when Gilda was detected with cancer, Michigan Live reports.
Gene and Gilda were so much in love that the latter had once aptly described their bond: “My life went from black-white to Technicolor.”
Two years after Gilda died from cancer, Gene Wilder helped to set up the Gilda Radner Ovarian Detection Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The comic actor always regretted the fact that his wife and sweetheart “didn’t have to die.”
Gene Wilder loved his wife so much that he wanted to save the hundreds and thousands of Gildas who die due to misdiagnosis. The center named after his beloved wife screened high-risk patients and catered to basic diagnostic tests.
The actor testified before a congressional subcommittee in May, and $30 million was allocated for cancer research, Los Angeles Times reports. In 1991, Wilder recounted in an essay in People, how his wife died. He felt that he could have saved her from an “early death” had he not been ignorant and dumb.
Gene Wilder wrote the essay with the aim that people should learn from his wife Gilda Radner’s story. He recounted how three days before she died he took her for a CT scan at Cedars-Sinai.
She knew they would give her morphine and was afraid to take it, she even begged Gene to get her out. But, he told her everything would be alright.
Gilda was sedated and was unconscious for three days. Gene wrote his wife died on May 20, 1989. Gene Wilder’s wife battled with cancer for three years.
“I feel relieved now, and I sleep better at night. The old story that one person can really make a difference. . . . I was just lucky; I think I was one spoke in a wheel that started to turn at this time. Actually Gilda was the main horsepower behind the whole thing,” he wrote in the essay.