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BUNNY BUNNY by Alan Zweibel

BUNNY BUNNY

Gilda Radner: A Sort of Love Story

By Alan Zweibel

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-43085-7
Publisher: Villard

 In a series of funny, tender, and touching dialogues, former Saturday Night Live writer Zweibel recalls his buddy-and-almost- lover friendship with SNL actress Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer. Zweibel claims he ``merely scribbled the dialogues playing in my head,'' and, indeed, these recreated conversations have a neurotic, sarcastic, and vulnerable air of authenticity. The actress and writer become fast friends on the SNL set and segue into personal revelation. Their friendship produces some wonderful scenes, such as when Radner pretends she's Zweibel's girlfriend to flummox a high school rival of his they meet on a train. There are scenes of awkwardness (Zweibel rushes over to Radner's to inform her of a break-up with his girlfriend and intrudes on her date), great affection (Radner has a flight attendant tape a note of apology to Zweibel on an airplane toilet ``because toilets make [him] laugh''), and petty pique. Wearied by a public quick to claim familiarity, Radner asks Zweibel to call her ``Gilbert,'' and she reveals that she says ``Bunny Bunny'' as a talisman against danger. Other dialogues involve Zweibel's venture into marriage and parenthood, and Radner's romance with Gene Wilder. But when Radner learns she has cancer, Zweibel's comedy takes on a more urgent task: to keep her laughing through her pain. His note to her on a transfusion pouch: ``I knew I'd finally get some fluid of mine into you one way or the other.'' And shortly before Gilda dies, Zweibel, with wisecracking tenderness, suggests that they somehow ``just forgot'' to get married. ``Spirits just don't die,'' Zweibel said at a 1989 memorial service, and he has created a moving and entertaining tribute. And he will donate all proceeds to Gilda's Club, a cancer support center in New York City. (Pen-and-ink illustrations) (Literary Guild alternate selection)