Lillian Gish


Actor
Lillian Gish

About

Also Known As
Dorothy Elizabeth Carter, Lillian Niles, Lillian Diana Gish
Birth Place
Springfield, Ohio, USA
Born
October 14, 1893
Died
February 27, 1993

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 perfo...

Photos & Videos

The Wind - Movie Poster
Broken Blossoms - Lobby Cards
La Boheme (1926) - Lobby Cards

Family & Companions

Virginia Nell 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
Producer. 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.
George Jean Nathan
Companion
Critic. Born in 1882; was having simultaneous relationships with Gish and singer-dancer-actress Adele Astaire in 1924; separated c. 1936.

Bibliography

"Lillian Gish: Her Legend, Her Life"
Charles Affron, Scribner (2001)
"Lillian Gish: A Life on Stage and Screen"
Stuart Oderman, McFarland (2000)
"A Moment with Miss Gish"
Peter Bogdanovich, Saint Teresa Press (1995)
"Lillian Gish: An Actor's Life for Me!"
as told to Selma G. Lanes, Viking Kestrel (1987)

Notes

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.

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.

Born on Oct. 14, 1893 in Springfield, OH, Gish was raised by her father, James, a traveling salesman and her mother, Mary, a former actor and department store clerk. Before she ever really knew him, her alcoholic father abandoned the family and later died in 1912. Because her mother acted to support the family, Gish and her sister Dorothy were introduced to the stage at an early age. As a child, she made her stage debut in a tour of the play "In Convict Stripes" (1902) and was subsequently replaced by a young actress named Gladys Smith, who went on to become friend and early Hollywood star Mary Pickford. While acting, she continued with her education, attending several schools in Massillon, OH, from 1904-09, until settling in at the convent boarding school Ursuline Academy in East St. Louis, MO. In 1912, Gish moved with her mother and sister to New York City, where they were introduced by Pickford to director D.W. Griffith, who was so taken by both young actresses and their fragile beauty, that he brought them into the fold at the Biograph Company.

While Griffith's contributions to cinema have been well-documented, his association with Lillian Gish was one of those rare times when two visions combined to revolutionize an art form. Gish was a firm believer in art as a higher ideal; she did not consider acting to be a mere profession. She soon came to share her director's opinion that film was a legitimate medium which inherently possessed more potential for artistic expression than the stage, and the pictures Griffith and Gish made together over nine years bore witness to that conviction. She made her film debut alongside Dorothy in Griffith's silent short, "An Unseen Enemy" (1912), and went on to star in a number of the director's early work including "The Painted Lady" (1912), "The Musketeers of Pig Alley" (1912) and "The Burglar's Dilemma" (1912). Though she was working steadily in film, Gish found the time to return to the New York stage for "A Good Little Devil" (1913), which starred Mary Pickford and was directed by David Belasco.

Of course, Gish continued to work almost exclusively with Griffith, starring in a number of films that year including "The Unwelcome Guest" (1913), "The House of Darkness" (1913), and "The Mothering Heart" (1913), in which she played a pregnant wife deserted by her husband who loses her baby after giving birth. It was in challenging roles like "The Mothering Heart" that Gish was able master the art of restraint in her acting, particularly in close-ups, which became a hallmark of her technique. Unlike the arm-waving, eyelid-fluttering histrionics engaged in by other actresses - a method carried over from stage productions - Gish used small yet meaningful gestures to great effect. Meanwhile, she went to work with other directors like Christy Cabanne and Dell Henderson, starring in "During the Round-Up" (1913) and "A Modest Hero" (1913). But it was her continued work with Griffith that she best able to perfect her skills while helping the director elevate his craft with such memorable films as his groundbreaking epic "The Birth of a Nation" (1915), "Hearts of the World" (1917) and "Broken Blossoms" (1919). The last film featured her in a discomforting scene where she displayed a variety of emotions while getting beaten to death by her abusive father (Donald Crisp).

Gish made several more pictures with Griffith, most notably "Way Down East" (1920) and "Orphans of the Storm" (1921), the former of which featured her most lasting image: floating unconscious on ice while heading for a waterfall. In fact, this iconic scene was so dangerous to shoot that, until the day she died decades later, Gish's right hand was impaired due to keeping it in the icy water for hours at a time to get the shot. At this point, she had earned a reputation for being able to wield great power and began taking more control of her career. She made two films for Inspiration Pictures before signing a five-picture deal with MGM in 1925. Because Gish's star image was intimately linked to her capabilities as a serious actress, MGM placed her in a series of literary adaptations, including "La Boheme" (1926), in which she played the consumptive Mimi, and "The Scarlet Letter" (1926), where she was the adulterous Hester Prynne. Unfortunately, with her prestigious stature came rising production costs, which cut into the profit margins of her pictures. Gish's best MGM film was "The Wind" (1928), a harrowing story of a genteel woman who is brutalized by a stranger in West Texas before shooting him and going mad. It was not only her last great performance in silent pictures, it would sadly also be her last successful starring role altogether.

By the end of the 1920s, a new type of modern heroine, exemplified by Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Clara Bow, was in vogue, Gish's appeal was now regarded as somewhat prudish and dated. With the onset of talkies, she returned to Broadway to star alongside Osgood Perkins in a production of Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" (1930). After enjoying a stage triumph with "Camille" (1932), Gish made her last film for nearly a decade, "His Double Life" (1933), before concentrating solely on the stage. She returned to Broadway for a production of "Within the Gates" (1934), staged by Melvyn Douglas, before starring in "The Old Maid" (1936), Zoe Akins' adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1925 novel, The Mother's Recompense. Gish next played Ophelia in John Geilgud's staging of "Hamlet" (1936), before making stops in Baltimore and Chicago on a tour of "Life with Father" (1940). Almost a decade removed from the screen, Gish returned to films with a supporting turn in the war movie "Commandos Strike at Dawn" (1942), starring Paul Muni and Anna Lee. Following roles in "Top Man" (1943) and "Miss Susie's Slagle's" (1946), Gish achieved screen prominence again with her supporting performance in the David O. Selznick-produced Western "Duel in the Sun" (1947), which earned the actress her only Academy Award nomination.

Though she recaptured her onscreen acclaim, Gish instead opted to make another return to the stage, this time starring opposite famed actor and teacher Sanford Meisner in "Crime and Punishment" (1947). After co-starring opposite Jennifer Jones in "Portrait of Jennie" (1948), Gish made her television debut in the "Philco Television Playhouse" presentation of "The Late Christopher Bean" (NBC, 1949). During this time, Gish was comfortable going back and forth between stage and screen, starring in "The Autobiography of Grandma Moses" (CBS, 1952) and originating the role of Carrie Watts in Horton Foote's teleplay for "The Trip to Bountiful" (NBC, 1953), which she reprised later that year on Broadway; both television special and stage production were directed by Vincent Donohue. After playing the maternal god-fearing Rachel Cooper in Charles Laughton's thriller "The Night of the Hunter" (1955), starring Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters, Gish toured with sister Dorothy in "The Chalk Garden" (1956) before appearing in Berlin for "Portrait of a Madonna" (1957), a one-act written by Tennessee Williams that the playwright wrote for her and served as a prototype for his most famous character, Blanche Du Bois. Williams' one-act was actually part of a double bill for Gish, who also starred alongside Burgess Meredith in "The Wreck on the 5:25" (1957) by Thornton Wilder.

Gish made her directing debut with a stage production of "The Beggar's Opera" (1958) and returned to the silver screen for a supporting turn in the John Huston Western "The Unforgiven" (1960), starring Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn. She next appeared in the award-winning Broadway production of Tad Mosel's "All the Way Home" (1960), acted in a small screen version of "The Spiral Staircase" (NBC, 1961), and starred as Mrs. Moore in a Chicago staging of E.M. Forster's novel "A Passage to India" (1963). Even into her seventies, Gish found new ways to break personal ground when she made her Broadway musical debut as the Russian Dowager Empress in "Anya" (1965), which was based on the Ingrid Bergman-Yul Brenner drama "Anastasia" (1956). Following a featured role in the Disney movie "Follow Me Boys!" (1966), she co-starred alongside Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in "The Comedians" (1967). She returned to Broadway the following year to co-star in "I Never Sang for My Father" (1968) before being featured in a Mike Nichols-directed version of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" (1970), starring George C. Scott and Julie Christie.

Gish's career wound down in the next decade, which began when she received an Honorary Academy Award in 1971 for her lifetime of achievement. A few years later, she delivered her final Broadway performance in "A Musical Jubilee" (1975) while hosting the series "The Silent Years" (PBS, 1975), which showcased films from the silent era. After appearing as a family matriarch who passes away in Robert Altman's "A Wedding" (1978), she made appearances in television movies like "Thin Ice" (CBS, 1981) and "Hobson's Choice" (CBS, 1983). Gish next starred in the ill-advised "Hambone and Hillie" (1984) before making her last television appearance, playing Mrs. Loftus in the four-part miniseries "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (PBS, 1985). The following year, she was cast as the aged mother of a history professor (Alan Alda) in the comedy "Sweet Liberty" (1986) and made her final film appearance opposite Bette Davis in "The Whales of August" (1987), in which both played a pair of aged sisters. Gish delivered one of the best performances of her long career, only to be disappointed when the Academy failed to nominate her for an Oscar. Meanwhile, she made her last professional appearance with a cameo in Jerome Kern's "Showboat" (1988), where she delivered her last-ever line, "Good night, dear." Settling into retirement, Gish eventually passed away from natural causes on Feb. 27, 1993 at 99 years old. She left her estate to old friend and actress, Helen Hayes, who died less than a month after Gish.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Remodelling Her Husband (1920)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008)
Herself
TBD (2005)
D.W. Griffith: Father of Film (1993)
MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992)
The Whales of August (1987)
Sweet Liberty (1986)
Hambone and Hillie (1984)
Lillian Gish (1983)
Herself
Hobson's Choice (1983)
Miss Molly Winkle
Thin Ice (1981)
A Wedding (1978)
Nettie Sloan
Twin Detectives (1976)
The Comedians (1967)
Mrs. Smith
Warning Shot (1967)
Alice Willows
Follow Me, Boys! (1966)
Hetty Seibert
The Great Chase (1962)
The Unforgiven (1960)
Matilda Zachary
Orders to Kill (1958)
The Cobweb (1955)
Victoria Inch
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Rachel Cooper
Portrait of Jennie (1949)
Mother Mary of Mercy
Duel in the Sun (1947)
Laura Belle McCanles
Miss Susie Slagle's (1946)
Miss Susie Slagle
Top Man (1943)
Beth Warren
Commandos Strike At Dawn (1942)
Mrs. Bergesen
Commandos Strike at Dawn (To Be Deleted) (1942)
His Double Life (1934)
Alice
One Romantic Night (1930)
Alexandra
The Wind (1928)
Letty
The Enemy (1928)
Pauli Arndt
The Scarlet Letter (1927)
Hester Prynne
Annie Laurie (1927)
Annie Laurie
La Bohème (1926)
Mimi
Romola (1925)
Romola
The White Sister (1923)
Angela Chiaromonte
Orphans of the Storm (1921)
Henriette Girard
Way Down East (1920)
Anna Moore
A Romance of Happy Valley (1919)
Jennie Timberlake
True Heart Susie (1919)
Susie May Trueheart
The Greatest Question (1919)
Nellie Jarvis
Broken Blossoms (1919)
Lucy, the girl
Hearts of the World (1918)
The girl, Marie Stephenson
The Great Love (1918)
Alice Susanna "Susie" Broadplains
The Greatest Thing in Life (1918)
Jeanette Peret
Souls Triumphant (1917)
Lillian Vale
Daphne and the Pirate (1916)
Daphne La Tour
A House Built Upon Sand (1916)
Evelyn Dare
Intolerance (1916)
The woman who rocks the cradle
Diane of the Follies (1916)
Diane
The Children Pay (1916)
Millicent
An Innocent Magdalene (1916)
Dorothy Raleigh
Sold for Marriage (1916)
Marfa
Pathways of Life (1916)
Captain Macklin (1915)
Beatrice
The Lost House (1915)
Dosia Dale
The Lily and the Rose (1915)
Mary Randolph
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
Elsie, Stoneman's daughter
Enoch Arden (1915)
Annie Lee
Judith of Bethulia (1914)
Young mother with baby
The Battle of the Sexes (1914)
Jane, his daughter
Lord Chumley (1914)
Eleanor Butterworth
Home, Sweet Home (1914)
His Sweetheart
The Folly of Anne (1914)
Man's Enemy (1914)
Silent Sandy (1914)
The Rebellion of Kitty Belle (1914)
The Green-Eyed Devil (1914)
The Hunchback (1914)
The Sisters (1914)
The Angel of Contention (1914)
The Tear That Burned (1914)
A Misunderstood Boy (1913)
The Conscience of Hassan Bey (1913)
The Left-Handed Man (1913)
Oil and Water (1913)
A Modest Hero (1913)
During the Round Up (1913)
The Mothering Heart (1913)
A Timely Interception (1913)
The Blue or the Gray (1913)
The Lady and the Mouse (1913)
A Woman in the Ultimate (1913)
The Battle at Elderbush Gulch (1913)
The Madonna of the Storm (1913)
The Unwelcome Guest (1913)
Just Gold (1913)
Just Kids (1913)
An Indian's Loyalty (1913)
The New York Hat (1912)
Two Daughters of Eve (1912)
My Baby (1912)
The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912)
The One She Loved (1912)
The Burglar's Dilemma (1912)
In the Aisles of the Wild (1912)
Gold and Glitter (1912)

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008)
Other
Lillian Gish (1983)
Other

Cast (Special)

Lillian Gish: The Actor's Life For Me (1988)
Happy Birthday, Hollywood! (1987)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1986)
The Night of 100 Stars II (1985)
The American Film Institute Salute to Lillian Gish (1984)
Performer
Hollywood: The Pioneers (1980)
Sparrow (1978)
The Spiral Staircase (1961)

Cast (Short)

The Comedians in Africa (1967)
Herself
1955 Motion Picture Theatre Celebration (International) (1955)
Herself
Motion Picture Theatre Celebration (1955) (1955)
Herself

Misc. Crew (Short)

Film Fun (1955)
Archival Footage

Life Events

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)

1903

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

1912

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

1912

With mother and sister, moved to NYC

1912

Had featured role in "The Musketeers fo Pig Alley"

1913

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

1914

Appeared in Griffith's "Judith of Bethulia"

1915

Starred in "The Lily and the Rose"

1915

Was featured in "The Birth of a Nation"

1916

Reunited with Griffith for small role in "Intolerance"

1916

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

1919

Headlined "Broken Blossoms", directed by 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

1921

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

1922

Had lead role in the melodramatic "The White Sister"

1924

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

1926

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

1928

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

1930

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

1932

Enjoyed stage triumph as "Camille"

1933

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

1934

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

1936

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

1936

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

1940

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

1942

Returned to features in "Commandos Strike at Dawn"

1946

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

1947

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

1948

Second film with Jennifer Jones, "Portrait of Jennie"

1949

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

1952

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

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

1955

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

1956

Toured with sister Dorothy in "The Chalk Garden"

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

1958

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

1958

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

1959

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

1959

Starred in the John Huston-directed "The Unforgiven"

1961

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

1963

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

1965

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

1966

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

1967

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

1968

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

1970

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

1975

Final Broadway performance, "A Musical Jubilee"

1978

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

1984

Starred in the ill-advised "Hambone and Hillie"

1985

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

1986

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

1987

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

Photo Collections

The Wind - Movie Poster
The Wind - Movie Poster
Broken Blossoms - Lobby Cards
Broken Blossoms - Lobby Cards
La Boheme (1926) - Lobby Cards
La Boheme (1926) - Lobby Cards
The Night of the Hunter - Pressbook
Here is the campaign book (pressbook) for The Night of the Hunter (1955), directed by Charles Laughton. Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.
The Scarlet Letter - Movie Poster
Here is the Window Card from The Scarlet Letter (1926), starring Lillian Gish. Window Cards were 14x22 mini posters designed to be placed in store windows around town during a film's engagement. A blank space at the top of the poster featured theater and playdate information.
One Romantic Night - Lillian Gish Publicity Still
Here is a photo taken of Lillian Gish, to help publicize One Romantic Night (1930), her first all-talking picture.

Videos

Movie Clip

Whales Of August, The (1987) - You Didn't Answer Me Continuing their leisurely day on the Maine coastal islands (shot on Cliff Island) ca. 1954, older sister Sarah (Lillian Gish) and blind younger sister Libby (Bette Davis) share memories and ideas, in director Lindsay Anderson’s The Whales Of August, 1987.
Cobweb, The (1955) - Sprung Up Like A Toadstool! Gloria Grahame as Karen, lonely wife of one doctor at the psychiatric clinic, on the phone from a local concert with administrator Vicky (Lillian Gish) fighting about drapes, then sharing with her husband’s suave French senior colleague “Dev” (Charles Boyer), in Vincente Minnelli’s The Cobweb, 1955.
Duel In The Sun (1947) - He Don't Want Me Mixed-race charity case Pearl (Jennifer Jones) at the Texas McCanles ranch, delivered by Jesse (Joseph Cotten), greeted by his mother Laura Belle (Lillian Gish), the Senator (Lionel Barrymore) and lustful brother Lewt (Gregory Peck) in Duel in the Sun, 1947.
Night Of The Hunter, The (1954) - By Their Fruits Little explanation but plenty of chill, opening with Lillian Gish speaking to disembodied kids, then introduction of Robert Mitchum as "Preacher" Harry Powell, from Charles Laughton's landmark Night Of The Hunter, 1955.
Wind, The (1928) - Lillian Gish Introduction Lillian Gish turned 90 in 1983, the year she made this introduction to Victor Seastrom's celebrated 1928 film The Wind, her version of her own agency never in dispute.
Wind, The (1928) - Ghost Horse Southern Letty (Lillian Gish) on her trip west to visit cousin Cora (Dorothy Cumming), getting a lift from cowboy Lige (Lars Hanson), with fantasy, then getting on too well with Cora's husband Bev (Edward Earle), early in Victor Seastrom's The Wind, 1928.
Wind, The (1928) - Awful Forsaken Place Out of town Letty (Lillian Gish) dressed up for the dance, cowboys Sourdough (William Orlamond) and Lige (Lars Hanson) both making unlikely bids for her hand, the more viable Roddy (Montagu Love) getting closer, when a storm blows up, in Victor Seastrom's The Wind, 1928.
Wind, The (1928) - Puny But Irresistible Director Victor Sjostrom’s opening, from the novel by Dorothy Scarborough, Frances Marion’s script and, in between, a story outline by star Lillian Gish, in which she, as “Letty,” begins a journey west, predatory Montagu Love as “Roddy” imposing himself, in MGM’s The Wind, 1928.
Wind, The (1928) - You've Been My Wife A Whole Hour Desperate Southerner Letty (MGM star Lillian Gish, who wrote the story outline herself), having alienated the Western relatives she was visiting, has just married rough-hewn cowboy Lige (Lars Hanson) and appears unready for the ramifications, in The Wind, 1928, directed by Victor Sjostrom.
Duel In The Sun (1947) - Your Son, Ma'am! Jesse McCanles (Joseph Cotten) finds his principles rankle his father the Senator (Lionel Barrymore) while his mother Laura Belle (Lillian Gish) silently approves in Duel in the Sun, 1947.
Comedians, The (1967) - Our Greatest Achievement! Disembarking in Port-au-Prince, evangelical vegeterains the Smiths (Lillian Gish, Paul Ford) and retired "Major" Jones (Alec Guinness), met by Captain Concasseur (Raymond St. Jacques), then a brief appearance by Petit Pierre (Roscoe Lee Browne), early in Graham Greene's The Comedians, 1967
Comedians, The (1967) - Haiti Means Hate! Brown (Richard Burton) delivers the Smiths (Lillian Gish, Paul Ford) and the widow Philipot (Gloria Foster) to the funeral for her activist husband, met by Tonton Macoutes, then by Captain Concasseur (Raymond St. Jacques), in The Comedians, 1967, from Graham Greene's novel and screenplay.

Trailer

Family

James Leigh Gish
Father
Traveling salesman. Born c. 1875; alcoholic; separated from family; died in 1912.
Mary Robinson McConnell
Mother
Actor, department store worker. Born in September 1876; died in 1948.
Dorothy Gish
Sister
Actor. Born on March 11, 1898; acted together in many films including their first, "An Unseen Enemy" (1912), and "Orphans of the Storm" (1921).

Companions

Virginia Nell 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
Producer. 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.
George Jean Nathan
Companion
Critic. Born in 1882; was having simultaneous relationships with Gish and singer-dancer-actress Adele Astaire in 1924; separated c. 1936.

Bibliography

"Lillian Gish: Her Legend, Her Life"
Charles Affron, Scribner (2001)
"Lillian Gish: A Life on Stage and Screen"
Stuart Oderman, McFarland (2000)
"A Moment with Miss Gish"
Peter Bogdanovich, Saint Teresa Press (1995)
"Lillian Gish: An Actor's Life for Me!"
as told to Selma G. Lanes, Viking Kestrel (1987)
"Vanessa"
Ann Pinchot (1978)
"The Films of D.W. Griffith"
Edward Wagenknecht and Anthony Slide, Crown (1975)
"Dorothy and Lillian Gish"
James E. Frasher, Charles Scribner's Sons (1973)
"Lillian Gish: The Movies, Mr. Griffith & Me"
Lillian Gish with Ann Pinchot, Prentice-Hall (1969)
"Life and Lillian Gish"
Albert Bigelow Paine, Macmillan (1932)

Notes

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.