OLD TOWN — Following news that several Gilda's Club chapters around the country were changing their names due to a "lack of recognition" of Gilda Radner, Second City has put together a free panel to make ensure Chicagoans remember the former Saturday Night Live comedian who died of cancer in 1989.
Second City announced the event, "Celebrating Gilda," late Friday afternoon, amid outlash against the Madison, Wis., chapter's name change as well as news of three other chapters which have already dropped the Gilda's Club name, according to a Wisconsin State Journal Report.
The Chicago chapter of Gilda's Club received an "irate" phone call from a donor Thursday night who was upset by the thought that Gilda's Club Chicago would be changing its name as well. That prompted CEO LauraJane Hyde to squash those rumors in an published statement Friday.
"Please be assured that Gilda's Club Chicago will remain Gilda's Club Chicago in honor of the courageous way Gilda Radner lived, and all our members live, with cancer," Hyde wrote.
Radner, who is best known as an original cast member of "SNL," started her career with The Second City in Toronto, and went on to create characters such as Rosanne Rosannadanna, Emily Litella and Lisa Loopner.
The Second City free panel in Radner's honor will be held Thursday from 5 until 6 p.m. in UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Avenue. Anne Libera, director of comedy studies at The Second City and Columbia College Chicago, will moderate the panel consisting of current Second City mainstage cast members Katie Rich and Mary Sohn, Second City alumni and cast member Claudia Michelle Wallace of "What the Tour Guide Didn't Tell You: A Chicago Revue," and improv instructor and current cast member of "The Second City's Improv All-Stars," Rachel Mason.
Gilda Radner's career was cut short when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986, and recognizing the importance of cancer support groups. Her husband, Gene Wilder, along with many of Radner's friends founded Gilda's Club in here memory following her 1989 death, according to a statement on the club's website.
Doors will open at 4:45 p.m. Thursday for the panel. To RSVP call 312-337-3992.