Emily Litella was a fictional character played by comedian Gilda Radner in a series of appearances on Saturday Night Live (SNL). Based on a person in her early life, Emily Litella was a popular member of Radner's comedy repertoire.
Emily Litella was an elderly woman with a hearing problem who made regular appearances on SNL's "Weekend Update" op-ed segment in the late 1970s. Attired in a frumpy dress and sweater, Litella was introduced with professional dignity by the news anchors, who could sometimes be seen cringing slightly in anticipation of the malapropism they knew would follow.
Gilda Radner (as Litella) peered through her reading glasses and, in the character's trademark high-pitched, warbly voice, read a prepared statement in opposition to an editorial that the TV station had supposedly broadcast. These sketches were, in part, a parody of the Fairness Doctrine, which at the time required broadcasters in the United States to present opposing viewpoints on public issues. Litella became increasingly agitated as her statement progressed. Midway in her commentary, it became apparent that she had misheard and/or misunderstood the subject of the editorial to which she was responding. A typical example:
What is all this fuss I hear about the Supreme Court decision on a "deaf" penalty? It's terrible! Deaf people have enough problems as it is!
The news anchor interrupted Litella to point out her error, along the lines, "That's death, Ms. Litella, not deaf ... death." Litella would wrinkle her nose, say something like, "Oh, that's very different...." then meekly turn to the camera and say, "Never mind." When Litella played against news anchor Chevy Chase (whom she often called "Cheddar Cheese"), he was somewhat sympathetic to her. But when Jane Curtin took over the anchor role, she would scold Litella on the air, to which Litella would reply, "I'm sorry. Miss Clayton, It won't happen again....Bitch!"
Other misheard topics to which Litella responded included "saving Soviet jewelry [really Jewry]", "endangered feces [species]", "violins [violence] on television", "busting [busing] schoolchildren", "presidential erections [elections]", "flea [free] elections (and then "flea erections") in China", "pouring money into canker [cancer] research", the "Eagle [Equal] Rights Amendment", "conserving our natural racehorses [natural resources]", "youth in Asia [euthanasia]", "sax [sex] on television", "firing [hiring] the handicapped", and "making Puerto Rico a steak [state]". About the last of these topics, she complained, "Next thing you know, they'll want a baked potato with sour cream!"
Radner based Litella on her childhood nanny, Elizabeth Clementine Gillies, known as "Dibby", who was allegedly hard of hearing. The line "Never mind" became a lighthearted catchphrase of the era.
The character also appeared in Radner's 1979 one-woman off-Broadway show, Gilda Live, in which Litella took a job as a substitute teacher in Bedford-Stuyvesant, replacing a teacher who had been stabbed by one of his students, or "stubbed", as Litella put it.
A similar character, Anthony Crispino, made his first appearance on a Weekend Update in Season 37, and has become a recurring character.
"Never mind" 
- don't worry
- it doesn't matter
- I was wrong; I withdraw the statement; pretend I didn't say it.
In saying "Never mind", Litella acknowledges her error in misapprehending some expression and speaking out about the perceived issue on national television. However, her cheery two-word apology, which she apparently considers sufficient to set things right, comically shows her lack of understanding of the havoc she has caused. Having learned nothing from the experience, she is back with a similar mistake (and another "Never mind!") in succeeding episodes.
"Never mind" was a running gag and a catch phrase during the character's 26 appearances in the Weekend Update portion of the comedy series. In quoting Litella, a person acknowledges a mistake, or that a previously-expressed concern is no longer to be considered valid. However, by imitating her distinctive way of saying those words, the person ironically conveys a more light-hearted, self-aware tone to the expression than does the character herself.
See also 
- Muppet Wikia: Episode 304
- Memorable quotes for The Best of Gilda Radner (1989)
- Barone, Michael (2005-09-28), "At NASA, an Emily Litella moment", U.S. News &World Report
- "Emily Litella". SNL Archive. Retrieved 2007-09-24.