Gilda Radner, John Belushi Remembered by Original SNL Stars

Pam WrightLife

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Gilda Radner and John Belushi were two of the original Saturday Night Live stars, but sadly, they both tragically died far too young and at the height of their careers.

Gilda Radner broke hearts, including her husband and the original Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder, when she died of ovarian cancer in 1989, at the age of 42. She won an Emmy for her SNL work and was hilarious portraying her most famous character, Rosanne Rosannadana.

As for John Belushi, who may be best-known for his work as one of the Blues Brothers, he died of an accidental overdose in 1982, at the age of 33.

People magazine took some time to interview several of their former SNL cast mates prior to the 40th Anniversary Show scheduled for tonight on NBC.

Chevy Chase of the famed Vacation films said it is easy to look back and remember both of them with great fondness.

"It's not hard looking back," said Chevy Chase. "It would only be hard if I tried to forget them. I loved these people and it was unfortunate how they died but they were wonderful. John was like up to my shoulder but a brick, strong fella, but he had his issues, as you know. Gilda always had a pocketbook filled with candy. That's all she ate, she loved it. She was loved by many. I think about the loss of Gilda and particularly the loss of John and think, that's it, you're never going to find them again, anything like them."

Laraine Newman shared one particular member of Gilda Radner that seems to perfectly capture the personality of her friend.

"One time during a rehearsal in Louisiana, Gilda and I were left in a room somewhere for four hours," said Lorraine Newman. "No food or water, no bathroom. No way to communicate. Remember, cell phones hadn't been invented yet. But, Gilda being Gilda, made it a party. The room had one of those little metal trash cans with a lid and foot pedal that lifted it. This became Gilda's puppet and I interviewed it. And, for 4 hours, we howled. She was such a dear friend."

Fellow funny lady Jane Curtin had her own memories to share.

"We were all siblings. Let's put it that way," said Curtin. "And we were all very protective of each other. [Executive producer] Lorne [Michaels] and I, we didn't blend well. We were like oil and water. So we would communicate through Gilda. One time he wanted me to rip my shirt open during Weekend Update, but he was scared to ask me. Gilda came to me and she said, 'Lorne wants to ask you something but he's too afraid.' Losing John and Gilda was sad, but it's not just them. We've lost many. Some of the memories are lovely, some are sad, some are funny. But you keep going back."

Pam Wright