Comedy Icon Gilda Radner Honored at 'Love, Gilda' Documentary Premiere

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Joyce Lapinsky and Richard Lewis

"The thing that struck me about her also was that no matter what the character was, you fell in love with her vulnerability. You just fell in love with her as a person and then you just laughed your ass off all the time,” said Richard Lewis of the original 'Saturday Night Live' castmember.

Richard Lewis, Jillian Bell and Natalie Morales were all in attendance at the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study on Thursday night for the premiere of Love, Gilda, a documentary that recounted the life of original Saturday Night Live castmember Gilda Radner. 

Radner was an icon to generations of female comediennes and was known for creating outrageous characters like the outspoken Rosanne Rosannadana and hyperactive girl scout Judy Miller.

The film features appearances by such A-list comic actresses as Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph, all of whom spoke to the immense influence that Radner had on their own careers.

Lewis spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about what made Radner a comedy legend.

“She was just one of the most special comedians of all time as far as I’m concerned," he said. "She had an amazing ear for different characters and she was able to deliver the goods for that writing staff, which was insanely brilliant, and the thing that struck me about her also was that no matter what the character was you fell in love with her vulnerability. You just fell in love with her as a person and then you just laughed your ass off all the time.”

The doc explores Radner's rise to comic stardom as well as the pressures she felt dealing with sudden and immense fame. Overweight as a young girl, she developed an eating disorder as she struggled to remain thin as a TV star.

Love, Gilda director Lisa Dapolito told THR about the challenges Radner faced when SNL turned her into a national star.

“I didn’t know how at the height of her fame how much she struggled," she said. "In 1978, when she was America’s sweetheart, she really struggled with what was going on and with her eating disorder and what fame was bringing because Gilda was someone who wanted to be out in the world, and I think it was really hard for her not to have that playground.”

The film is both joyful and tragic, documenting Radner’s greatest comic moments as well as her struggle with cancer that ultimately claimed her life at only 42.

Producer James Tumminia spoke to what made Radner so influential even decades after she passed away.

“For me, it’s her infectious smile," he said. "Everything she did there was a little child in her and she really capitalized on that, and I think a lot of performers when they were growing up, they connected to that as well and they continue that in their work.”

At the conclusion of the doc, guests gathered in the lobby for a New York deli feast, including Reuben sliders, matzo ball shooters and potato pancakes topped with smoked salmon. There was much laughter and also a few tears as guests recounted their favorite moments, both from the film and from Radner's illustrious career.

Love, Gilda is set to open in theaters across the country on Sept. 21.