Lillian Gish

Actor, Director
Having pioneered screen acting from vaudeville entertainment into a form of artistic expression, actress Lillian Gish forged a new creative path at a time when more serious thespians regarded motion pictures as a rather ... Read more »
Born: 10/14/1893 in Springfield, Ohio, USA

Filmography

Actor (51)

Mary Pickford, The Muse of the Movies 2014 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

D.W. Griffith: Father of Film 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

MGM: When the Lion Roars 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Happy Birthday, Hollywood! 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

The Whales of August 1987 (Movie)

Sarah Webber (Actor)

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Sweet Liberty 1986 (Movie)

Cecelia Burgess (Actor)

Hobson's Choice 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

Hambone and Hillie 1983 (Movie)

Hillie Radcliffe (Actor)

Lillian Gish 1982 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

Thin Ice 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

Sparrow 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

A Wedding 1977 (Movie)

Nettie Sloan (Actor)

Arsenic and Old Lace 1968 - 1969 (TV Show)

Actor

Langlois 1969 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

The Comedians 1967 (Movie)

Mrs Smith (Actor)

Follow Me, Boys! 1966 (Movie)

Hetty Seibert (Actor)

Warning Shot 1966 (Movie)

Alice Willows (Actor)

The Spiral Staircase 1961 - 1962 (TV Show)

Actor

The Unforgiven 1960 (Movie)

Matilda Zachary (Actor)

Orders to Kill 1957 (Movie)

Mrs Summers (Actor)

The Alcoa Hour 1955 - 1957 (TV Show)

Actor

Philco Television Playhouse 1948 - 1956 (TV Show)

Actor

The Cobweb 1955 (Movie)

Victoria Inch (Actor)

The Night of the Hunter 1955 (Movie)

Rachel Cooper (Actor)

Duel in the Sun 1947 (Movie)

(Actor)

Portrait of Jennie 1947 (Movie)

(Actor)

Annie Laurie 1927 (Movie)

Annie Laurie (Actor)

The Scarlet Letter 1925 (Movie)

(Actor)

Way Down East 1921 (Movie)

Anna Moore (Actor)

Broken Blossoms 1919 (Movie)

(Actor)

Intolerance 1916 (Movie)

Eternal Motherhood (Actor)

Birth of a Nation 1915 (Movie)

(Actor)

Sold For Marriage 1915 (Movie)

(Actor)

Judith of Bethulia 1912 (Movie)

Young Mother With Baby (Actor)

The Battle at Elderbush Gulch 1912 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Mothering Heart 1912 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Musketeers of Pig Alley 1911 (Movie)

(Actor)

His Double Life (Movie)

Mrs. Alice Hunter (Actor)

Kraft Television Theater (TV Show)

Actor

One Romantic Night (Movie)

Alexandra (Actor)

Orphans of the Storm (Movie)

Henriette Girard (Actor)

Romola (Movie)

Romola (Actor)

The Commandos Strike at Dawn (Movie)

Mrs. Bergesen (Actor)

The DuPont Show of the Week (TV Show)

Actor

The Enemy (Movie)

Pauli Arndt (Actor)

The Greatest Thing in Life (Movie)

Jeanette Peret (Actor)

The White Sister (Movie)

Angela Chiaromonte (Actor)

Twin Detectives (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Having pioneered screen acting from vaudeville entertainment into a form of artistic expression, actress Lillian Gish forged a new creative path at a time when more serious thespians regarded motion pictures as a rather base form of employment. Gish brought to her roles a sense of craft substantially different from that practiced by her theatrical colleagues. In time, her sensitive performances elevated not only her stature as an actress, but also the reputation of movies themselves. Her finest work came in the silent era, when she was dubbed The First Lady of the Silent Screen, thanks in large part to her many collaborations with director D.W. Griffith, which included "The Birth of a Nation" (1915), "Intolerance" (1916), "Broken Blossoms" (1919) and "Way Down East" (1920). In the 1920s, Gish was one of the most powerful performers in early Hollywood and signed a lucrative contract with MGM to star in more serious fare like "La Boheme" (1926), "The Scarlet Letter" (1926) and "The Wind" (1928); the latter of which marked what many considered to be her finest performance. With the advent of sound, Gish stepped away from the screen in favor of the Broadway stage, only to make intermittent supporting appearances in films like "Duel in the Sun" (1947), which earned the actress her only Oscar nomination. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, she appeared on stage and television, as well as in film, suiting herself with a wide range of supporting roles. As her career wound down in the 1970s and 1980s, Gish pulled off one last great performance opposite an equally elderly Bette Davis in "The Whales of August" (1987), which helped stake her claim as being one of the greatest actresses of any era.

Relationships

Virginia Becker

Companion
born in 1895 met when Gish lived in Massillon, Ohio were lifelong friends in a 1932 biography of Gish, writer Albert Bigelow Paine referred to an "instant attraction" and noted that "whatever romantic love she [Lillian Gish] had, she gave to Nell"

Charles Duell

Companion
began relationship in 1923 while he was still married reportedly became engaged went into business together briefly relationship unraveled in 1924 in 1925, he sued her for breach of contract, but she won Duell's wife sued Gish for alienation of affections but suit seems to have been dropped in 1927, Duell once again sued Gish and MGM he again sued her in 1930 and 1932

Dorothy Gish Actor

Sister
Younger, born on March 11, 1898 acted together in many films including their first, "An Unseen Enemy" (1912), and "Orphans of the Storm" (1921)

James Gish

Father
born c. 1875 alcoholic separated from family died in 1912

James MacArthur Actor

Godchild

Mary McConnell

Mother
born in September 1876 died in 1948

George Nathan

Companion
born in 1882 was having simultaneous relationships with Gish and singer-dancer-actress Adele Astaire in 1924 separated c. 1936

EDUCATION

attended school in Shawnee, Oklahoma in 1911

Ursuline Academy

East St Louis , Missouri 1909 - 1910
convent boarding school

attended several schools in Massillon, Ohio between 1904 and 1909

Milestones

1987

Final film appearance as one of a pair of aged sisters in "The Whales of August"

1986

Cast as the aged mother of a history professor in "Sweet Liberty"

1985

Last TV role, as Mrs. Loftus in the PBS miniseries "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

1984

Starred in the ill-advised "Hambone and Hillie"

1978

Appeared in Robert Altman's "A Wedding" as the family matriarch who passes away

1975

Final Broadway performance, "A Musical Jubilee"

1969

Was featured in a Mike Nichols-directed version of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya", starring George C. Scott and Julie Christie

1968

Returned to Broadway to co-star in "I Never Sang for My Father"

1967

Acted in "The Comedians" alongside Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor

1966

Had featured role in the Disney movie "Follow Me Boys!"

1965

Broadway musical debut as the Russian Dowager Empress in "Anya", based on "Anastasia"

1963

Starred as Mrs. Moore in a Chicago stage production of E.M. Forster's novel "A Passage to India"

1961

Acted in a TV version of "The Spiral Staircase" (NBC)

1959

Co-starred in the award-winning Broadway production of "All the Way Home"

1959

Starred in the John Huston-directed "The Unforgiven"

1958

Had one scene role in "Orders to Kill", directed by Anthony Asquith

1958

Directed a stage production of "The Beggar's Opera" in New Orleans

1957

Appeared in Berlin in the double bill, "Portrait of a Madonna", a one-act which Tennessee Williams wrote for her and which served as the prototype for Blanche DuBois, and "The Wreck on the 5:25" by Thornton Wilder, co-starring Burgess Meredith

1956

Toured with sister Dorothy in "The Chalk Garden"

1955

Played the godfearing, maternal Rachel Cooper in "The Night of the Hunter", directed by Charles Laughton

1953

Originated role of Carrie Watts in Horton Foote's teleplay "The Trip to Bountiful", aired as a presentation of NBC's "Goodyear Television Playhouse"; directed by Vincent J. Donahue; in November, recreated role in Broadway version, also directed by Donahue

1952

Starred in the CBS presentation "The Autobiography of Grandma Moses"

1949

TV acting debut in the "Philco Television Playhouse" presentation of "The Late Christopher Bean" (NBC)

1948

Second film with Jennifer Jones, "Portrait of Jennie"

1947

Starred opposite Sanford Meisner in the stage play "Crime and Punishment"

1946

Received only Academy Award nomination for supporting work in "Duel in the Sun", starring Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones

1941

Returned to features in "Commandos Strike at Dawn"

1940

Agreed to star in a tour of "Life with Father"; performed in Baltimore and Chicago

1936

Starred in Zoe Akins' adaptation of "The Old Maid"

1936

Played Ophelia to John Geilgud's "Hamlet" on Broadway

1934

Acted in the Broadway production "Within the Gates", staged by Melvyn Douglas

1933

Last film for nearly a decade, "His Double Life"

1932

Enjoyed stage triumph as "Camille"

1930

Returned to Broadway to appear in "Uncle Vanya" alonside Osgood Perkins

1928

Had one of her most remembered roles as the plucky heroine of "The Wind", directed by Victor Sjostrom

1926

Played Mimi in the silent screen version of "La Boheme"

1924

Signed to contract with MGM; first film with the studio "Romola"

1922

Had lead role in the melodramatic "The White Sister"

1921

With sister Dorothy, starred in "Orphans of the Storm"; final film with Griffith

1920

Feature directorial debut, "Remodeling Her Husband"; co-wrote script with sister Dorothy (billed under the pseudonymous Dorothy Elizabeth Carter); Dorothy Gish had lead role

1920

Starred in "Way Down East" under Griffith's direction

1919

Headlined "Broken Blossoms", directed by Griffith

1916

Reunited with Griffith for small role in "Intolerance"

1916

Had rare role as a saucy vixen in "Diane of the Follies"

1915

Starred in "The Lily and the Rose"

1915

Was featured in "The Birth of a Nation"

1914

Appeared in Griffith's "Judith of Bethulia"

1913

Returned to the NYC stage in "A Good Little Devil", supporting Mary Pickford; directed by David Belasco

1912

With mother and sister, moved to NYC

1912

Had featured role in "The Musketeers fo Pig Alley"

1912

Film acting debut, "An Unseen Enemy"; first film with D.W. Griffith; sister Dorothy was also in the cast

1903

NYC stage acting debut in "At Duty's Call"

1902

Stage acting debut in tour of the play "In Convict Stripes"; billed as Lillian Niles; subsequently replaced in role by Gladys Smith (later known as Mary Pickford)

Bonus Trivia

.

Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse had asked Lillian and her sister Dorothy not to sign run-of-the-play contracts when each agreed to head a tour of "Life with Father". The playwrights had hoped the sisters would star in "Arsenic and Old Lace", but neither Gish sister listened and were thus unavailble to originate the roles of the Brewster sisters. Lillian did get to star with Helen Hayes in a 1969 ABC television adaptation of the play.

SIMILAR ARTICLES