Lillian Gish

Picture Lillian Gish
Photo: Albert Witzel (1879-1929)

1893 - 1993

The actress Lillian Gish was born as Lillian de Guiche in Springfield, Ohio. Her sister was the actress Dorothy Gish. The father was an alcoholic and was most of the time absent, the family was on their own. The mother Mary Gish and her daughters began to act on stage to earn money for the living. This was the beginning of a successful theater career for the next 13 years.

Lillian Gish made her film debut in 1912 with D.W. Griffith's "An Unseen Enemy" (12), together with her sister. Griffths became was the most important person for the future career of the Gish siblings, especially for Lillian Gish it meant the way to immortality.

Lillian Gish became already a top star in 1913 and she appeared only in this year in 25 movies. Because of her great success she was able to took part in less movies in the following years but select more critical her next productions.

She appeared in Griffith's masterpieces "The Birth of a Nation" (15) and "Intolerance" (16), other successful productions of this decade were "The New York Hat" (12), "Judith of Bethulia" (14), "The Lily and the Rose" (15), "The Great Love" (18), "Broken Blossoms" (19) and "The Greatest Question" (19).

But even the great Lillian Gish wasn't spared from the generation change. New faces were demanded and film offers became more rarely. In the 20's she only took part in nine movies, among them "Orphans of the Storm" (21), in which she acted at her sister's side and gave a great performance, "Romola" (24), "La Boheme" (26), "The Scarlet Letter" (26) and "The Wind" (28).
Once Lillian Gish made an interesting quotation about actresses and actors concerning to become older:
"Lionel Barrymore first played my grandfather, later my father, and finally, he played my husband. If he'd lived, I'm sure I'd have played his mother. That's the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older."

Lillian Gish directed her only movie "Remodeling Her Husband" in 1920, with her sister Dorothy Gish as the leading actress. 

Like her sister, Lillian Gish also finished her career after only two sound movies in the 30's - "One Romantic Night" (30) and "His Double Life" (33).

Only in the 40's she had a comeback with the movies "Commandos Strike at Dawn" (42), "Top Man" (43) and "Miss Susie Slagle's" (46), which followed the successful productions "Duel in the Sun" (46) - she was nominated for the Oscar for the best actress in a supporting role - and "Portrait of Jennie" (48).

In the following decades her engagements for the theater, television and cinema rotated. She appeared on the big screen with the movies "The Night of the Hunter" (55), "The Cobweb" (55), "Orders to Kill" (58), "The Unforgiven" (60), "The Comedians" (67), "Sweet Liberty" (86) and finally her last picture "The Whales of August" (87), which rallied a crowd of the old stars Lillian Gish, Bette Davis, Vincent Price and Ann Sothern.

Lillian Gish became the Honorary Award for her lifework in 1971.

Other movies with Lilllian Gish:
Two Daughters of Eve (12) In the Aisles of the Wild (12) The One She Loved (12) The Painted Lady (12) The Musketeers of Pig Alley (12) Gold and Glitter (12) My Baby (12) The Informer (12) A Cry for Help (12) The Burglar's Dilemma (12) Oil and Water (13) The Unwelcome Guest (13) A Misunderstood Boy (13) The Left-Handed Man (13) The Lady and the Mouse (13) The House of Darkness (13) Just Gold (13) A Timely Interception (13) The Mothering Heart (13) During the Round-Up (13) An Indian's Loyalty (13) A Woman in the Ultimate (13) A Modest Hero (13) So Runs the Way (13) Madonna of the Storm (13) The Battle at Elderbush Gulch (14) The Hunchback (14) The Battle of the Sexes (14) The Quicksands (14) Home, Sweet Home (14) Lord Chumley (14) The Sisters (14) The Tear That Burned (14) The Rebellion of Kitty Belle (14) A Duel for Love (14) The Lost House (15) Enoch Arden (15) Captain Macklin (15) Daphne and the Pirate (16) Sold for Marriage (16) An Innocent Magdalene (16) Diane of the Follies (16) The Children Pay (16) The House Built Upon Sand (16) Souls Trimphant (17) The Greatest Thing in Life (18) A Romance of Happy Valley (19) True Heart Susie (19) Way Down East (20) The White Sister (23) Annie Laurie (27) The Enemy (27) Serie "The Philco Television Playhouse: The Late Christopher Bean" (49) Serie "The Ford Theatre Hour: Outward Bound" (49) Serie "Robert Montgomery Presents: Ladies in Retirement" (51) Serie "The Philco Television Playhouse: The Trip to Bountiful" (53) The Trip to Bountiful (53) Serie "Robert Montgomery Presents: The Quality of Mercy" (54) Serie "Kraft Television Theatre: I, Mrs. Bibb" (55) Serie "Ford Star Jubilee: The Day Lincoln Was Shot" (56) Serie "The Alcoa Hour: Moring's at Seven" (56) Serie "The Defenders: Grandma TNT" (62) Serie "The Defenders: Stowaway" (64) Serie "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: Body in the Barn" (64) Follow Me, Boys! (66) Warning Shot (67) Arsenic and Old Lace (69) Twin Detectives (76) A Wedding (78) Sparrow (78) Thin Ice (81) Serie "The Love Boat: Isaac's Teacher/Seal of Approval/The Successor" (81)Hobson's Choice (83) Hambone and Hillie (84) Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (85)