Lillian Gish

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Related to Lillian Diana Gish: Lillian De Guiche
Lillian Gish
Lillian Diana Gish
BirthplaceSpringfield, Ohio, United States

Gish, Lillian,

1896–1993, American stage and movie actress, b. Springfield, Ohio. In 1912 she began her film career with D. W. GriffithGriffith, D. W.
(David Llewelyn Wark Griffith), 1875–1948, American movie director and producer, b. La Grange, Ky. Griffith was the first major American film director. He began his film career as an actor and a scenario writer in 1908 with the Biograph Company.
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. A fragile, delicate beauty, Gish often played a heroine rescued from cruel fate at the last moment. For Griffith, she appeared in The Birth of a Nation (1915), Broken Blossoms (1918), Way Down East (1920), and many other films. Possessed of great pantomimic gifts and an expressive face, she brought these qualities to many personally chosen vehicles, including The Scarlet Letter (1926) and The Wind (1928). She returned to the stage (1930), after which she made occasional films, including Night of the Hunter (1955). Her later stage work included acclaimed performances in Hamlet (as Ophelia, 1942), All the Way Home (1960), and Uncle Vanya (1973). She teamed with screen legend Bette DavisDavis, Bette
, 1908–89, American film actress, b. Lowell, Mass., as Ruth Elizabeth Davis. One of the most durable stars of the American screen, she made her debut in 1931.
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 in the film The Whales of August (1987). Her sister, Dorothy Gish, 1898–1968, was also an actress, who co-starred with Lillian in such films as Hearts of the World (1918) and Griffith's Orphans of the Storm (1921) and did a good deal of work on the stage.


See Lillian Gish's autobiography (1969, repr. 1988); biography by C. Affron (2000).

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Gish, Lillian (b. Lillian de Guiche)

(1896–93) film actress; born in Springfield, Ohio. "The First Lady of the Silent Screen" made her stage debut when she was five, and her screen debut in 1912. A discovery of D. W. Griffith, she starred in The Birth of a Nation (1915) and went on to play waif-like heroines with indominable spirits. Intelligent and strong-willed, she exerted considerable control over her films and she directed one, Remodelling Her Husband (1920), starring her sister, Dorothy Gish. She returned to the stage in 1930, but continued to make occasional films. She received a special Oscar in 1970. She wrote her autobiography, The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me (1969).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.