Gish, Lillian, 1893-1993

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1893-10-14
Death 1993-02-27
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Actress, director.

From the description of Reminiscences of Lillian Gish : oral history, 1978. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309742647

Actress.

From the description of Papers of Lillian Gish, 1920-1978. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71130921

Actress whose career spanned the silent film era till the 1980's.

From the description of Papers, 1919-1997. (Bowling Green State University). WorldCat record id: 39285330

Lillian Gish, actress of stage and silent film.

From the description of Lillian Gish papers and sound recordings, 1909-1992. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122598382

Lillian Gish was born in Springfield, Ohio, and raised in New York. Deserted by her father, her mother ran a boardinghouse, and Lillian and her sister, Dorothy, took jobs as models; later, one of her mother's boarders, Mary Pickford, helped the sisters get roles in movies. Lillian caught the attention of D.W. Griffith, and for more than ten years she was featured in most of his major films, turning her into one of the biggest movie stars of her day. With the demise of silent films she turned to the stage, making movies occasionally, and eventually television roles. She also lectured on movies, and wrote several books about her experiences. Her last role was in The Whales of August, in 1987, capping an unparalleled seventy-five year career as an actress.

From the description of Lillian Gish letter to Miss Adler and flyer promoting Lillian Gish & the movies, 1969. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 70669999

Lillian Gish, legendary star of the silent film era, was born in Springfield, Ohio in 1893.

Although best known as one of the earliest stars of the nascent film industry, Lillian Gish began as a child trouper on the stage with her sister Dorothy and their mother. At the age of five, she made her first appearance in a melodrama IN CONVICT STRIPES. A chance meeting in 1912 with another child actress Gladys Smith, who became world renowned as Mary Pickford, brought her and Dorothy to the attention of D.W. Griffith, a pioneering director in silent film days. She soon became his leading star, achieving stardom in his productions of BIRTH OF A NATION (1915), INTOLERANCE (1916), and most notably in ORPHANS OF THE STORM (1922), playing opposite her sister Dorothy. She was the perfect Griffith heroine, revealing a strong will and intelligence under a fragile, almost ethereal exterior.

She parted company with Griffith over a salary dispute, later joining MGM in 1925. One of the few stars to have control over story and director, Gish made only two successful movies at MGM, LA BOHEME and THE SCARLET LETTER. Overshadowed by the rising prominence of Greta Garbo, she left MGM and made a few films as an independent. She then decided to return to the Broadway stage and found the right vehicle in director Jed Harris's production of UNCLE VANYA in 1930. Her success in the play led to other starring roles, among them Ophelia opposite John Gielgud in the 1936 production of HAMLET. Thereafter, she never lacked for roles on Broadway and worked steadily as a stage actress until 1973.

In 1968, she suffered a personal blow when her sister Dorothy, with whom she was extremely close throughout her life, died. From time to time, she returned to the movies and also appeared on television from the 1950s to the 1970s, making her final appearance on screen in the movie THE WHALES OF AUGUST in 1987. In 1970, she was awarded a special Oscar for her lifetime contributions to motion pictures. Lillian Gish died in 1993 in her hundredth year. She recorded the account of her life in LIFE AND LILLIAN GISH (1932), THE MOVIES, MR. GRIFFITH AND ME (1969) and DOROTHY AND LILLIAN GISH (1973).

From the description of Lillian Gish papers, 1909-1992. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 123390048

Biographical Note

  • 1893 Oct. 14: Born, Springfield, Ohio
  • 1901: Made her stage debut
  • 1905: Danced in Sarah Bernhardt's stage production, New York, N.Y.
  • 1912: Began her movie career, working for D. W. Griffith's Biograph Studio, film debut in An Unseen Enemy
  • 1913: Appeared on stage with Mary Pickford in A Good Little Devil
  • 1914: Appeared in the film Birth of a Nation
  • 1915 - 1916 : Appeared in the film Intolerance
  • 1917: Traveled to Europe to appear in D. W. Griffith's film Hearts of the World
  • 1919: Appeared in the film Broken Blossoms
  • 1920: Appeared in the film Way Down East Directed the film Remodeling Her Husband
  • 1921: Appeared in her last D. W. Griffith film Orphans of the Storm
  • 1925: Joined the Metro-Goldwyn Co.
  • 1925 - 1932 : Involved in litigation resulting from suits filed by producer Charles Duell
  • 1929: Appeared in her first talking motion picture, One Romantic Night
  • 1930: Returned to the stage in the play Uncle Vanya
  • 1948: Appeared on stage in Crime and Punishment Television debut in The Late Christopher Bean, Philco Playhouse
  • 1950: Appeared on stage in Miss Mabel and The Curious Savage
  • 1954 - 1960 : Appeared in the films Night of the Hunter, Duel in the Sun, Portrait of Jennie, and The Unforgiven
  • 1960 - 1961 : Appeared on stage in The Family Reunion and All the Way Home
  • 1963: Appeared on stage in Too True To Be Good and A Passage to India
  • 1965: Appeared on stage in Romeo and Juliet
  • 1967: Appeared in the film The Comedians Appeared on the stage in I Never Sang for My Father
  • 1968: Appeared with Helen Hayes in the television version of Arsenic and Old Lace
  • 1969: Published with Ann Pinchot Lillian Gish; The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall
  • 1969: 1971 - 1973 : Toured Europe, Russia, and United States as lecturer on the art of film
  • 1971: Received Honorary Academy Award
  • 1973: Published Dorothy and Lillian Gish. New York: Scribner Received Handel medallion, City of New York, N.Y.
  • 1978: Appeared in the films La Boheme and A Wedding
  • 1980: Appeared in the television film Thin Ice
  • 1982: Received Kennedy Center Honors, Washington, D.C.
  • 1983: Appeared in television production of Hobson's Choice
  • 1984: Received the Lifetime Achievement Award, American Film Institute Appeared in the film Hambone and Hillie
  • 1987: Last film role in The Whales of August
  • 1993, Feb. 27: Died, New York, N.Y.

From the guide to the Lillian Gish Papers, 1829-1978, (bulk 1920-1969), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

Lilllian Gish, legendary star of the silent film era, was born in Springfield, Ohio in 1893. Although best known as one of the earliest stars of the nascent film industry, Lillian Gish began as a child trouper on the stage with her sister Dorothy and their mother. At the age of five, she made her first appearance in a melodrama In Convict Stripes . A chance meeting in 1912 with another child actress Gladys Smith, who became world renowned as Mary Pickford, brought her and Dorothy to the attention of D. W. Griffith, a pioneering director in silent film days. She soon became his leading star, achieving stardom in his productions of Birth of a Nation (1915), Intolerance (1916), and most notably in Orphans of the Storm (1922), playing opposite her sister Dorothy. She was the perfect Griffith heroine, revealing a strong will and intelligence under a fragile, almost ethereal exterior.

She parted company with Griffith over a salary dispute, later joining MGM in 1925. One of the few stars to have control over story and director, Gish made only two successful movies at MGM, La Bohéme and The Scarlet Letter . Overshadowed by the rising prominence of Greta Garbo, she left MGM and made a few films as an independent. She then decided to return to the Broadway stage and found the right vehicle in director Jed Harris's production of Uncle Vanya in 1930. Her success in the play led to other starring roles, among them Ophelia opposite John Gielgud in the 1936 production of Hamlet . Thereafter, she never lacked for roles on Broadway and worked steadily as a stage actress until 1973.

In 1968, she suffered a personal blow when her sister Dorothy, with whom she was extremely close throughout her life, died. From time to time, she returned to the movies and also appeared on television from the 1950s to the 1970s, making her final appearance on screen in the movie The Whales of August in 1987. In 1970, she was awarded a special Oscar for her lifetime contributions to motion pictures. Lillian Gish died in 1993 in her hundredth year. She recorded the account of her life in Life and Lillian Gish (1932), The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me (1969) and Dorothy and Lillian Gish (1973).

Chronology of Selected Events in the life of Lillian Gish 10/14/1893Lillian Gish born 1912Met and started working for D. W. Griffith 1914Judith of Bethulia ; Folly of Anne 1915Birth of a Nation 1916Intolerance 1917Travels to Europe to film British propaganda film Hearts of the World 1918Hearts of the World 1919Broken Blossoms 1920Directs her first film Remodeling Her Husband 1920Way Down East 1922Orphans of the Storm 1923The White Sister 1924Romola 1924-1925Lawsuit with Charles Duell and Inspiration Pictures 1926La Bohème 1930Albert Bigelow Paine is contracted to write Lillian Gish biography 1932Camille 1936Hamlet 1939Life With Father 1947Duel in the Sun 1948Mary (Mae) Gish dies 1955Night of the Hunter 1957Opening of Congress Hall in Berlin - special ANTA performance starring Lillian Gish and many others 1960The Unforgiven 1965Romeo and Juliet - American Shakespeare Festival 1966Contracts with Disney for Follow Me! Boys 1967Worked on The Comedians in Africa 1968Dorothy Gish dies 1968-1979Lecture tour Lillian Gish and the Movies 1969The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me published 1970Receives Oscar for lifetime work in motion pictures 1973Dorothy and Lillian Gish published 1987Whales of August 1993Lillian Gish dies

From the guide to the Lillian Gish papers, 1909-1992, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Lillian Diana Gish was an American actress, best known for her appearance in such silent screen classics as Birth of a Nation and Orphans of the Storm. Born October 14, 1893, died February 27, 1993. She spent over 75 years on the sreen (1912- 1987). Her most prominate films were of the 1910s and 20s, with D.W. Griffith as the director. AFI listed Gish as 17th among the greatest female stars of all time. She was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 1971, and in 1984 she received an AFI Life Achievement Award.

Lillian Gish never married or had children. The association between Gish and D. W. Griffith was so close that some suspected a romantic connection, an issue never acknowledged by Gish, although several of their associates were certain they were at least briefly involved. For the remainder of her life she always referred to him as "Mr. Griffith."

From the guide to the Lillian Gish Letter, 1975, (Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.)

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Subjects:

  • Motion picture industry--History
  • Silent films--History
  • Acting
  • Actresses--Biography--Sources
  • Silent films
  • Actresses--Correspondence
  • Motion picture actors and actresses--United States
  • Motion picture acting
  • Theater--Vocational guidance
  • Silent films--United States--History
  • Motion picture industry
  • Motion pictures and music
  • Actresses--Interviews
  • Motion picture actors and actresses
  • Drama--Stories, plots, etc
  • Motion pictures--Production and direction
  • Motion picture industry--United States--History
  • Theater
  • Theater--United States

Occupations:

  • Motion picture actors and actresses--United States
  • Actresses

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)