Gene Wilder Was Right: Gilda Radner Didn’t Have To Die, And We Need To Talk About Why She Did
Abby Norman
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You’ve just taken my breath away with this piece, Abby. I was thinking about writing about Gilda Radner and Gene Wilder when I got home tonight, but you beat me to it, and I can’t compete with your flawless representation of their pain and love story combined. My story would be too personal — too much of me in it and not enough of them; however, I feel compelled to respond.

Gilda and I were born one year apart. When she died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in May of 1989 at the age of forty-two (one month short of her forty-third birthday), I was lying in a hospital bed a few floors down from hers. I had just turned forty-two in April and was pregnant with my second daughter.

“Her doctor told her she was literally “full of shit” and gave her laxatives.”

In 1983 when I doubled over with pain and fell off the toilet seat at home, I was taken to Cedars Emergency, where the doctor told me I was constipated and gave me an enema. I was back the next day for a CT scan which showed hydronephrosis of my left kidney. They were sure I had a kidney stone, gave me morphine, and at nineteen weeks gestation I had microsurgery to remove the stone.

There was no stone, but to save himself, my urologist claimed he removed a mucus plug and sent me home. Three hours later, I was back with two minute apart contractions. Surgery had irritated my uterus. I spent most of four months in the hospital until Amy was born in August, two months early. She weighed 2 1/2 pounds and was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for six weeks.

Gilda and I were born one year apart. When she died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in May of 1989 at the age of forty-two (one month short of her forty-third birthday), I was lying in a hospital bed a few floors down. I had just turned forty-two in April and was pregnant with my second daughter.

Olivia was born on May 27, 1989, at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. She weighed 4 1/2 pounds and was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for two weeks. She arrived one week to the day after Gilda Radner died just a few floors away.

I blame Cedars for everything that happened to my daughters and to me. I blame Cedars for not listening to Gilda’s cries for help. No one listened to mine either. We were just lucky. I’m so sorry, Gilda.


If you’re interested in reading more about my hospital nightmares, I have written a more comprehensive story.

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