A NEW YORKER AT LARGE – By Jack Stinnett (Santa Cruz Sentinel, 1936)

  • Santa Cruz Sentinel, Volume 94, Number 72, 23 September 1936
  • A NEW YORKER AT LARGE!
  • By Jack Stinnett

NEW YORK – Among the “anticipations of the Broadway season” New Yorkers are listing well toward the top Lillian Gish’s soon-to-be-seen performance as Ophelia in the Guthrie McClintic production of “Hamlet.” In spite of her long experience on stage and screen, this is Miss Gish’s first venture in Shakespeare. She’s “very thrilled,” she told Lillian Gish us, but more than that she would say naught for it is not the Gish way to be talking of a thing before it is done.

Guthrie McClintic and Lillian Gish working on last details before Hamlet – 1936 (Lillian Gish signed the contract for Ophelia)

On the subject of why she quit pictures she was far more articulate for that is a thing that is over and laid aside. . . . And a queen’s mantle it was too that Miss Gish put off when she turned away from the films to come back to the stage as Helena in “Uncle Vanya.” “It’s really quite simple,” she says. “I always loved the stage. I always felt that I was part of it. I started acting when I was six, you know. “Pictures used to be something you could give your whole heart to in the silent days. And I liked that. We often worked hard, very hard, often never knowing if we would be paid until the pictures proved successful and sometimes not being paid when they were not. “But silent pictures were wonderful. There was so very much to expressing yourself in action alone . . . such a thrill when you knew you had told your story without words. I have seen some of the old silent pictures recently and you would be I surprised how well they stand up. “Words need an audience and when it came to the business of speaking lines again, I had to return to the stage. I have never regretted it,” she says.

Lillian Gish as Ophelia, 1936, by Edward Steichen

Somewhere in those years of experience that led from the stage to films to stage again, Miss Gish has discovered Ponce de Leon’s fountain. Don’t get us wrong. Miss Gish isn’t old. Her film star was high in the sky before she was 20. But she retains a miraculous youth … an unchangeableness that leaves her still the wistful young girl of “The Birth of a Nation,” and “Broken Blossoms,” and “Way Down East”. Proof of it was seen in a story she told of her travels this summer. On a 6000-mile motor trip through Europe that carried her into Macedonia, she was recognized time after time by natives of little villages that boasted not a single movie house. Some years ago, Miss Gish made a picture which you may recall . . . “The White Sister.”‘ The picture was shown in the churches of numerous villages of southeastern Europe. In many instances, if was the only movie the people ever had seen and they had never forgotten the little “White Sister.”

“Ophelia” – Photo Gallery – Lillian Gish

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