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Lillian Gish Turns to the Footlights

Years ago, when David Belasco starred Mary Pickford in the fanciful “A Good Little Devil,” Lillian Gish appeared in the minor role of a good fairy.* The other day, however, Miss Gish returned to the speaking stage in New York. Her reception was remarkable.

Lillian Gish turns to the footlights (Uncle Vanya 1932)
Lillian Gish turns to the footlights – (Uncle Vanya 1930)

Miss Gish came back in “Uncle Vanya,” a comedy by the Russian Chekhov. She had the role of Helena. Of her, Robert Litell said in The New York World: “She is not quite like any other actress I have ever seen, with a lovely repose and certainty, a combination of delicate shades and pastel dignity which make us realize how great the screen’s gain has been all these years, to our loss.”

Lillian Gish turns to the footlights - detail (Uncle Vanya 1932)
Lillian Gish turns to the footlights – detail (Uncle Vanya 1930)

No announcement has been made of Miss Gish’s possible return to the films. The two portraits on this page show Miss Gish as Helena in “Uncle Vanya.”

Lillian Gish - Uncle Vanya (Harris)
Lillian Gish – Uncle Vanya (Harris)

Advertising Uncle Vanya …

Jed Harris had selected a well-nigh perfect cast. With Walter Connolly in the title role, the tired, tearful, disillusioned Vanya; with Osgood Perkins, as Astroff, the hard-riding, hard-drinking, disillusioned doctor; with Eugene Powers, as Serebrakoff, the ailing, fat-headed, city professor; with Lillian, as Helena, his young, beautiful, disillusioned wife; with Joanna Roos, as Sonia, his unhappy, love-lorn daughter; with Kate Mayhew, as Nurse Marina; with Isabel Irving, Eduardo Ciannelli, and Harold Johnsrud—one must travel far to find a group of players better suited to a Chekhov play, or one more congenial to work with. Ruth Gordon was not in the cast, but she came to Lillian’s apartment and worked with her. So did Mr. Harris. They believed in her, and encouraged her to believe in herself. Going back to the stage had its difficulties.

Uncle Vanya
Uncle Vanya

Who’s Who in the Cast

Uncle Vanya
Uncle Vanya

OSGOOD PERKINS was graduated from Harvard in 1914 and, aside from Hasty Pudding antics, saw little of the stage until after the war, when he was silently villainous in five motion pictures. His first Broadway gesture was in “The Beggar on Horseback.” In this, as in three subsequent pl!iys, “Weak Sisters,” “The Masque of Venice” and “Pomeroy’s Past,” he impersonated a gentleman of the cloth – sometimes acidly, sometimes benevolently, but always effectively. His cleric constituency exhausted, he turned over a new leaf in “Loose Ankles,” and since that time has been tough and rough and sinister in “Spread Eagle,” Women Go On Forever” and “The Front Page.” He spends many summers abroad and frequently essays a sortie into motion pictures. Married? Yes.

Uncle Vanya
Uncle Vanya

LILLIAN GISH returns to the stage in the Chekhov comedy after an absence of 17 years. She last appeared on a prosceniumed platform in New York in 1913, along with Ernest Truex and Mary Pickford, in “A Good Little Devil” at the Republic. Since “The Birth of a Nation” her fame in pictures has been secure. Among the notable films which she has illumined, are “Intolerance,” “Broken Blossoms,” “Way Down East,” “Orphans of the Storm,” “The White Sister,” “Hearts of the World,” “Romola” and “The Scarlet Letter.” Miss Gish made her stage debut at the age of six in a melodrama, “In Convict’s Stripes,” in Rising Sun, Ohio. She was born in Springfield, Ohio, and has never married.

WALTER CONNOLLY was born in Cincinnati, and became acquainted with flats and parallels in college dramatics at St. Xavier’s. Was schooled in touring companies of Sothern and Marlowe, Ben Greet, and the Coburns, chiefly in Shakespearean repertory.

Lillian Gish UNCLE VANYA Osgood Perkins – Kate Mayhew (Signed) 1930 Playbill

Lillian Gish UNCLE VANYA Osgood Perkins – Walter Connolly 1930 Opening Program

Lillian Gish UNCLE VANYA Osgood Perkins – Walter Connolly 1930 Playbill

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