Gilda's Club affiliates changing their name because Gilda Radner died way too long ago

Four affiliates of the cancer support community Gilda's Club, formed and named in honor of the legendary Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner (who died of ovarian cancer in 1989), have decided to drop Gilda's name for an incredibly depressing reason: the younger patients don't know who she is. "...[O]ur college students were born after Gilda Radner passed, as we are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis,” said executive director of Gilda's Club Madison, Lannia Syren Stenz. "We want to make sure that what we are is clear to them and that there’s not a lot of confusion that would cause people not to come in our doors." According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the national organization will slowly phase in the new name, Cancer Support Community, and phase Gilda out. I feel like there's a "there's always something" joke in this, but I'm too sad to think of one. (via Gawker)


  1. Pathetic. Rather than educate and enlighten the students, let’s just give in to their ignorance by adopting a boring generic name, which everyone might understand, but which has no soul. Sad indeed.

    1. Yeah, it’s not like it would take more than a few seconds to explain who Gilda Radner was. Don’t they have a bust in the lobby or something?

      One reason I liked the old name was the implied message that a person who brings love and joy to others is more powerful than a disease, even if that person’s body is overcome by it.

      I’d hate to be the one who broke this decision to Gene Wilder.

    2. They’re obviously lying. They screwed her over because of her name. The stereotype with ‘Gilda’ is couch-bound tv-watching grandma. Would they have changed it if her name were something nice like Emily, Abigail, or Grace, whether people knew her or not?

    3. While I find changing the name an odd move, is “Comedians of the 1970s-80s” really a category of knowledge that rises to the level of “enlightenment”?

          1. I actually deleted a second sentence where I attempted to account for all the things nerds would bring up as if I was likely to say “Lenny Bruce, who’s that?”

  2. Do they have to know who she was in order to appreciate the work Gilda’s Club does?  The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund was named for a kid (not even named Jimmy) back in 1948.  They seem to do just fine despite their namesake not being a celebrity.  It’s not like donors or patients say, “Oh, THAT Jimmy?!?  Well, in that case sign me up.”

    1. EXACTLY.

      it seems like this little press release is just a desperate bid for publicity, even if it makes them look stupid.

  3. I wonder what Gene Wilder has to say about this. (For those of you too young to know who HE is, he is a famous comedian who was married to Radner when she died, and was utterly devastated by it. He helped start Gilda’s Club.) Like Radner he is extremely funny – check out Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

  4. Absolutely pathetic.  Let’s get rid of the pictures of presidents on the bills too, because young people might be too stupid to know who they are.

  5. So, give the thing a name that you could find by, I dunno, googling, or whatever the kids do today. Makes sense. Hopefully, once they are there they find out about Gilda too. I don’t have a problem with changing the name of the group to doing what it says on the tin – that just makes sense. But remembering Gilda is a good thing too..

  6. I can understand wanting to put “Cancer Support” into the name. The name “Gilda’s Club” isn’t something that someone might immediately associate with cancer. But why not “The Gilda Radner Cancer Support Community?”

    1. Exactly. I’ve seen committees make this type of decision many times before, and it goes a little something like this: 1) Someone says that there is a problem, 2) Someone says “something” must be done, 3) Someone comes up with an idea. The idea is “something”, so we must do it. Usually the jump from 2 to 3 is so fast that they don’t bother to determine if the original problem was even a real problem, or if the problem description was even accurate, then they don’t take time to come up with alternatives, yet alone weigh the alternatives, or even determine if any of the alternatives correct the original problem they were trying to solve.

    1. Because, like the former first lady, they are unable to deal with their lot in life without chemical assistance?

      Oh…wait, you meant “do they remember who she is..”. Never mind.

      1. This Rockefeller Foundation? Who are they? Those folks Carnegie Foundation? Are they a hip & hop group? The kids don’t get that.

        Who are Bill & Melinda Gates? Why do they have a foundation? Just call it ”Cool Dude Freestyle Money Hip Hoppings For the Children” instead.

          1. What about all of these “Amber Alerts,” and “Megan’s Law” stuff I hear on the news? I am young and frightened of old things… PATRONIZE ME!

  7. And who the fuck is this “Angie” and why the hell does she have a “List”.


    I’m so angry I’m going to go talk dirty to some animals.

  8. This is just so jaw droppingly and tragically stupid.  I mean obviously Gilda is the name of a person.  Even if you don’t know who she is you can at least intuit that she existed and that people cared about her enough to name something after her.  That’s the whole point of naming something after someone.

    Just gimmie a damn unicorn and leave the bottle.

  9. I seem to be the exception here, but I think this a common sense change. If anything, this group (and any organization, for that matter) should never name themselves after a person to begin with, because it obscures what the organization is and what it does. Maybe in some cases this could be an advantage (groups that for safety or cultural reasons WANT to be hidden from outsiders). But I would think, if your organization wanted outside visibility at all — either to help others, or to attract people interested in helping others — you’d want a straightforward name that doesn’t require google to understand. 

    [Edit: Re-reading the other comments I feel like I’m on another planet: not only do I disagree with you, I don’t even understand why memorializing someone in an organization name would be desirable; my empathy for that position seems to be failing, in the same way it does when I encounter a foreign religious practice. So, take what I said with a grain of salt I guess.]

      1. Exactly. I have no idea who Susan Komen is, but I can at least guess what Komen for the Cure is about. (In fact I do know about this organization, though I probably wouldn’t recognize it if someone just called it “Komen”.) For people who knew Ms. Komen, it is probably a nice memorial. But it doesn’t promote clarity for those of us born after her passing. Which is probably why the full name of the organization (and most references to it I’ve seen in the press) mention the cure part too. You can have it both ways, I guess.

        [Edited for clarity and kindness]

        1. Well it would be nice if they’d change the name on  the Rhodes Scholarship, actually.

          Most people, when encountering an organization like that just *know* that it is named after some one who did something. Perhaps it is a cultural difference, but to those who are accustomed to it there seems to be no point in changing it in one place but not in ALL places.

          You might consider, for instance, that here in the US South it is so common that a vast majority of streets, highways, and schools are named after various public figures the very people using them may not even be able to identify.

          1. I’m not sure than anyone in San Francisco could tell you whom the alphabetical streets in the Avenues are named after. Francisco de Ulloa or Antonio de Ulloa? I DON’T KNOW!!!

        2. I’m not sure I’d want to be memorialized by an organization better known for its misogyny than its mission.

    1. There’s a huge part of me that agrees with you.  Like, if more than one or two of their target members – young women with cancer diagnoses – or a sizable chunk of their demographic found the name off-putting or otherwise a barrier to accessing the services, then yes, definitely, find a friendlier name.  I certainly think Gilda Radner would want that, far more than the honorary memorial to her (awesome) self.

      But that’s a very big “if,” and clearly many here are having trouble swallowing it.  And the new name would have to be something that sounded less clinical (which, IIRC, was the logic of calling it Gilda’s Club in the first place).

      It just seems  way more likely that by stripping it of Gilda’s name, they create the potential to have it named it after someone else, later, when another grieving millionaire or billionaire is found.  Yeah, sorry, I went there… now it’s time for the Cancer Support Community not to.

  10. Isn’t the whole point of naming a charity after a person that has passed away so that people will remember them?
     It’s not a freaking marketing ploy!
    Might as well rename every building iconic building in New York City. 

    “Carnegie Hall?
     Is he related to Anthony Micheal Hall?
    Who is Anthony Micheal Hall?”

  11. “Cancer Support Community”? These poor, literal, boring people are obviously bereft of interesting ideas. We should offer suggestions.

    It’s Always Something: Cancer Support

    Nevermind Cancer!

    Whatever Doesn’t Itch: Cancer Support

    We Gotta Stop Having Violins: Cancer Support

    If it Wasn’t For the Downside: Cancer Support

  12. IMO, it’s not such a great sin to prioritize connecting to the people you’re trying to serve over continuing to honor a great, funny and inspirational woman. I don’t think it’s necessarily going to help them much to market themselves as “Cancer Support Community” – that name is descriptive but dull as dirt –  but to use a platform like BB to jump on a smallish (from what I can see) non-profit serving people with cancer for a bad marketing decision based on your affection and respect for a dead celebrity seems kinda petty to me. Cancer celebrity tie-ins are kinda odd, in any case – I speak as someone whose cancer celebrity is Fran Drescher. Believe me, all staging and survival rates being equal, I would much prefer to be in the Gilda club – but I was born in ’67, and that might not be true for a lot of younger people . Sure, groovy people like me know Gilda Radner was cool, and it’s kinda depressing the younger people don’t know her – but you know what is really uncool, and depressing? Sure you do – cancer. It sucks, and it looks like this group is doing something to help people with it so give ’em a break for christsake. How about, “they made a marketing decision that’s kinda dumb, let’s make fun of it, and then let’s help them overcome that decision with a link to their contribution page” or “let’s show ’em how much we LOVE Gilda Radner with a contribution now in her name”?

  13. I feel bad for youngsters who think Jerry’s Kids are all genetically related to some guy named Jerry… Whose showbiz career ended decades earlier than Gilda’s…

    Personally I think the name ough to be:
    “What Cancer? Who me?”

    The more confusion the better when distraction from suffering is the goal

  14. Gee, that’s like taking the Susan Komen out of Komen for the Cure, or LaGuardia out of LaGuardia Airport. I have to imagine the reason is not as much the new, younger patients as the new, younger administrators of the group not knowing who she was. When does knowing the person named after something make a bit of difference? Should we rename Seattle because none of the past decade’s transplants have ever heard of Chief Sealth?

  15. It’s really taken off since it was renamed to “The No Particular Famous Comedian By Any Means Foundation.” I mean granted, the name is a bit of a mouthful, but it really hits home for a lot of youngsters nowadays.

    Shut up. Go to sleep.

    (This message is sponsored by the Bill Hicks Fund For An Expanded Reality.)

  16. Jesus Christ. What’s more important: immortalizing Gilda, or helping people with cancer? In the ultimate scheme of things, is changing the name of this nonprofit organization really that big a deal? Carcinogenic residue of the Me generation. If you want to keep her memory alive, go form a fucking appreciation society.

      1. i’d like to donate $5.00 to the Greg Weber Club for Creating a Fucking Appreciation Society for Gilda Radner so Greg Doesn’t Pop His Cork.

        is there a website?

        in the words of some dead comedienne, “it’s not a gang, it’s a club.”

  17. The name matters because the organization would not exist without Gilda Radner. From the Gilda’s Club Seattle website:

    “Gilda’s Club is named in honor of Gilda Radner, who, when describing the emotional and social support she received when she had cancer, called for such places of participation,
    education, hope and friendship to be made available for people with cancer and their families and friends everywhere. The New York flagship facility, with its International Training Center, opened in June of 1995”

    It was not a casual decision to put her name on the organization – she is the reason for the organization. That should matter to the people who run it and her story would only inspire those who come to them for help.

  18. Does cancer really need a support community? It seems to do fine just on its own. Seriously: the new name is the most unwelcoming name for a support group EVER. 

    1. i love it when the shorthand for supporting people with a disease becomes ‘supporting cancer’ or ‘supporting MS’– and so on.

      seems like a perfect Littela bit.

      1. What’s all this I hear about supporting cancer?  Maybe I’m old fashioned, but in my day we didn’t support cancer….we fought it tooth and nail.  What’s wrong with you young people nowadays, that you actually support a deadly disease?  Don’t you have something better to support, like….

        Wait, what’s that you say?  It’s supporting PEOPLE WHO HAVE cancer, not cancer?  Oh, well, in that case….

        Never mind.

  19. This makes me very sad. Once again, humans, you’ve failed to see the bigger picture. This wasn’t just some club that was formed to help cancer patients, it was an institute that was made to honor the memory of a great woman. I wish Gene was still alive, as he would definitely fight this and win. Whoever decided to push the name change should be ashamed of themselves, because you have completely dishonored the woman who is the sole reason this organization exists.

  20. In other news, Megan’s Law will be renamed each time a new kid goes missing, and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity will be henceforth known as Bieber’s.

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