Madera Tribune, 1926 “Romola”

Madera Tribune, Volume XXXVII, Number 100, 4 March 1926

Lillian Gish in “Romola” tonight

So many motion pictures are made each year that in the grist of a year’s film entertainment a production has to be superlatively good for it to stand out in bold relief. Such a production is “Romola,” Lillian Gish’s latest picture, which opens at the National theatre tonight for a run of two days. “Romola,” a film version of George Eliot’s immortal novel, is in fact a mile-stone of film progress. It surpasses anything heretofore seen in point of beauty. Never before have we seen such gorgeous settings, such use of shadows, such completeness of feeling for old world grandeur, such detail in the working out of art objects.

Lillian Gish - Romola

The inspiration, of course, was present in that the story was laid in the Florence of the Renaissance, but nevertheless the director, Henry King, and his corps of technical experts are deserving of all the praise one can bestow. Just beauty, however, is only one feature of “Romola” it has also great drama and great players to interpret it. What a cast! Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Ronald Colman. William H. Powell, Chas Lane, Herbert Grimwood and a host of others not entirely distinguishable because they are Italian actors with the usual difficult nomenclature. The Gish sisters are together in this picture for the first time since ‘‘Orphans of the Storm,” and again they show that team-work is a fine art in itself.

Lillian Gish Profile Romola

Lillian, of course, is Romola, and Dorothy appears as Tessa, the little peasant girl who lives so happily until she falls in love with the wicked Tito, and then is swept into tragedy. Both of the girls look more radiantly beautiful than ever before, and it is a delight to see them together again. Ronald Colman, who was the hero in Miss Gish’s “The White Sister,” again demonstrates that he is an actor of fine bearing with a nice repression that is most pleasing, and rather flattering, to the audience.

William Powell and Dorothy Gish Romola
William Powell and Dorothy Gish Romola

William H. Powell does the villain role with real suavity, and you rather like him after all; a fascinating performance. The story of Romola is especially adaptable for screen use, and while it might be called a costume picture, the characters are such that you have no trouble keeping their identity in mind, the chief fault with films that are laid in the period of silks and plumes. “Romola” takes place in 1492 and they didn’t wear plumes then to speak of.

4 March 1926

Lillian Gish and director Henry King - Romola candid on set

Madera Tribune 4 March 1926 (Romola)
Madera Tribune 4 March 1926 (Romola)
Lillian Gish admiring Romola portrait by Nicolai Fechin 1930 - French Press
Lillian Gish admiring Romola portrait by Nicolai Fechin cca 1925 (Oil on canvas painting) – French Press HiRes


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Lillian Gish still favorite dish – By Marilyn August, October – 1983

Desert Sun 15 October 1983

Famed star of silent films Lillian Gish still favorite dish

By MARILYN AUGUST Associated Press Writer

PARIS (AP) France’s cultural elite is shining the spotlight this week on American actress Lillian Gish who turned 87 Friday and gained fame on the silent screen when the French were embroiled in World War I. “I really don’t know what I’ve done to warrant all this generosity and goodness,” said Miss Gish, the uncontested grande dame of silent movies who is being honored during week long festivities in Paris.

jeanne moreau lillian gish

Miss Gish charmed generations of movie-goers as the heroine in D.W. Griffith’s 1915 Civil War classic “Birth of a Nation,” as the sad mother in “Intolerance,” and the luckless damsel in “Broken Blossoms.” Miss Gish, who Thursday received the prestigious Commander of Arts and Letters Award from French Minister of Culture Jack Lang, made her stage debut at age 4.

AP Wire Press Photo Lillian Gish, Jack Lang, Arts Letters Commandeur Medal 83
AP Wire Press Photo Lillian Gish, Jack Lang, Arts Letters Commandeur Medal 83

She has been working almost non-stop ever since, winning honors for performances in 102 movies and 50 plays that included works of Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams. French film director Francois Truffaut says her career of 83 years “follows cinema history as closely as two parallel tracks of the Union Pacific.”


Miss Gish and her sister, Dorothy, are the subject of a television documentary by Jeanne Moreau to be aired soon, along with a song-and-dance tribute to their careers. Her soft face set off by curls the color of champagne, Miss Gish showed no trace of fatigue after a whirlwind week in the French capital that included newspaper interviews, dinners, receptions and television appearances.



“I suppose silent film did speak to the world in a way you don’t have today,” she said, pressing the arm of a reporter. “You had to write the words so you remember them longer. Nowadays, everything’s done for you so you can just sit there and eat popcorn.” Although she had a major role recently in Robert Altman’s “Marriage,” and believes cinema is the major art of the century, she says going to the movies today “hurts my pride.” “We used to play to packed houses in theaters that held 6,424 people,” she said. “I go to the movies today, and there are only six people in the audience and they don’t react.” Miss Gish’s love affair with France began in 1917 when she, her mother and Dorothy came to film a “movie to make America make up its mind to go to war for France and England.”

“I bet there aren’t many people here who saw Paris for the first time with not one light burning only a full moon,” she said. “We weren’t afraid because we had just come from London where they were having air raids without warning. At 11 o’clock one night a bomb hit a tramway right under our windows at the Savoy and 11 people were killed. We couldn’t stay in our rooms for the screams of the wounded.” Paris was a veritable haven, except that “we got thin and nervous, and mother got shell-shocked at the front.”

Her voice dropped as she recalled the mud, the rats and an epidemic “that came like a reminder that we were all doing something very bad.” But it was “dear Mr. Griffith,” the man who discovered her in 1912 and cast her in a movie with Mary Pickford, who determined the course of her long and brilliant career. Miss Gish never married, and many say Griffith was the unspoken love of her life. “He was older than my real father, so much more serious and fatherly. He was a genius, a poet with a beautiful baritone voice,” she said, smiling. They disagreed only over her name. “What kind of name is Gish for an actress,” she quotes Griffith as saying. “Gish, pish, fish, dish.” “Well, said sister Dorothy, if Gish was good enough for mother, it’s good enough for us.”

MARILYN AUGUST Associated Press Writer – 1983

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Lillian-Gish-Jeanne-Moreau 60s
Lillian-Gish-Jeanne-Moreau 60s

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Desert Sun 15 October 1983
Desert Sun 15 October 1983


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Marks of age are lost in her glow – 1978 by Carol Olten (NY)

Desert Sun, 21 December 1978


Lillian Gish – Marks of age are lost in her glow


Lillian Gish, 82, sits under a crystal chandelier in the grand ballroom of a hotel on Central Park South. She is dressed all in orange, no, perhaps, more a coral because there seem to be pink tones in the identically colored suit, blouse and hat that lend a slight glow to her powdery paleness. She carries a small, velvet bag, the same color of coral and, one imagines, inside is a handkerchief of the same shade a lace handkerchief with flowers embroidered in a corner. Her skin, despite faint age spots and wrinkles that seem almost lace-like, too, in their delicacy, is near translucent. Mystifyingly, Lillian Gish looks unchanged from the virginal heroine seduced by a mulatto tyrant in “The Birth of the Nation,” 1915, or, the fragile waif rescued from the guillotine in “Orphans of the Storm,” 1922, The marks of age are there on her face, yes, but her eyes fill with childlike wonder as if searching out the room for an old Rolleiflex.

Robert Altman - Lillian Gish (A Wedding)
Robert Altman – Lillian Gish (A Wedding)

She exudes a strangely luminous quality. Her speech is quick and bright, brilliant in its remembrances. A photographer from 20th Century-Fox hovers around the table and, as he prepares to flash pictures, Ms. Gish invariably halts her conversation, turns toward him and poses for the photo, so inherent is her respect for the camera. The official purpose of the interview is to talk about “A Wedding,” Robert Altman’s new film in which Ms. Gish has the part of a family matriarch dying but dying amusedly in an upstairs bedroom while the bridal reception lakes place. It’s the first film Lillian Gish has done since “The Comedians” with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in 1967.

“I like Altman’s differences,” said Ms. Gish, “his newness to the approach to the human race. They tell me he doesn’t like them very much, but he’s making use of satire to call attention to their weaknesses. I pick people and talent when deciding to do a movie and 1 hope this one works because I’ve put all my money into my own project.” The project is a film about the history of silent movie making called “Infinity in Film.” It traces the era of the silents from the beginning until the talkies in 1928.

Lillian Gish celebrating her 100th Film "A Wedding"
Lillian Gish celebrating her 100th Film “A Wedding”
A Wedding
A Wedding

“I try to show the power of film,” said Ms. Gish. “The only country that uses the power of the film is Russia. “In July of 1969 I was a guest for 15 days in Russia with my lecture on film. In Russia they give the people classics and history of their country in films. They make Russian factories look like places you’d want to live and who would want to live in Siberia? But Siberia is made to look like poetry in white.” But this is propaganda and indoctrination, is it not? “Well! Before the First World War, we were sent to Europe to make movies that would make up American’s mind about the fighting. Nurses were valuable, then, but actors were a dime a dozen. We started thinking about this Dorothy, my mother and myself and it made us nervous. We were at the Savoy Hotel in London when London was bombed. “In 1917, I was for seven months in England and France with mother and my sister, Dorothy. I remember the first time we saw Paris. It was in the moonlight and Dorothy and I walked all night just to see it and in the morning we had something to eat. at the market. We thought we’d better take a look because, unless God was willing, there may never be another opportunity with the war happening.”

  • Photo: Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish and Robert Harron in Griffith’s “Hearts of the World”

Lillian Gish was born Lillian de Guiche in 1896 in Springfield, Ohio. She and her sister, who was born two years later and died in 1968 (never having quite the limelight in her screen career as Lillian), were the daughters of a sturdy German grocer and an actress mother. In her 1969 autobiography, “The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me,” Lillian recalled: “I made my debut when I was 6 in Rising Sun, Ohio. I took my first curtain call on shoulders of the handsome leading man, Walter Huston.” Lillian and Dorothy were on the road playing melodramas with their mother through the South and East until 1912 when they went to New York and saw a one-reeler in a nickelodeon featuring a fellow thespian, Gladys Smith. They went to Biograph Studios where the one-reeler had been made to talk to Gladys and found that she had changed her name to Mary Pickford, soon to become the world’s little sweetheart. Pickford introduced the Gishes to the director, D.W. Griffith. Lillian remembered, “I thought at first his name was Mr. Biograph. He invited us to work as extras and we started the next day. The pay was $5.”

The film was “An Unseen Enemy,” the first of many one-, two- and three-reeler melodramas the Gishes did with the acclaimed Griffith. Later. Lillian became Griffith’s leading silent star in such memorable films as “Birth of the Nation,” “Intolerance,” “Orphans in the Storm,” “Broken Blossoms” and “Way Down East.”

Lillian Gish - A Wedding
Lillian Gish – A Wedding
Elaine The Lilly Maid Dreaming of Astolat ... Lillian Gish - Way Down East
Elaine The Lilly Maid Dreaming of Astolat … Lillian Gish – Way Down East

THEN AND NOW – A movie career spanning more than 50 years is depicted in the two photos here. Below, Lillian Gish appears in “Way Down East,” in 1920. Above is her latest film, “A Wedding” now in release.

Carol Olten – New York (Desert Sun, Dec. 1978)


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The Clansman is coming to Local Theater – 1916

Morning Union, 8 January 1916

The Clansman is coming to Local Theater shortly

*** The Clansman also known as “The Birth of a Nation”

The Auditorium management this morning make the important announcement that three complete performances of “The Clansman” will be given in this city Sunday and Monday, January 23rd and 24th, opening with a matinee Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock. The second show will be given Sunday night and the third Monday night. The prices will be 25 cents for children, 50 cents for adults and 75 cents for reserved seats. Special music and singing is a part of the attraction.

The Birth of a Nation 1915 3

This production of twelve reels was directed by D. W. Griffith, the world’s foremost motion picture producer. It is an adaptation from Thomas Dixon, Jr’s popular novel of the same name, and is the costliest motion picture ever produced. “The Clansman” deals with the Civil War period. It shows the causes that led up to this conflict land carries Die spectator through the war. In “The Clansman’’ are shown the most marvelous battle scenes that have ever been staged. The siege before Petersburg with thousands of soldiers in action, is realistically shown in Die picture. The battle fields were laid out and trenches dug under the direct supervision of seven G. A. R. army veterans who took part in the original conflict.

The Birth of a Nation - Massive troop movements wide shot D. W. Griffith, American film master
The Birth of a Nation – Massive troop movements wide shot

These veterans, two of whom were commissioned officers, remained with Mr. Griffith during the entire period that the Scenes were being – staged. Artillery duels, in which explosive shells are hurled by both the Northern and Southern troops, from huge mortars, are shown in motion pictures for Die first time in “The Clansman.’’ The artillery used is Die same that was used during the Civil War and borrowed from the U. S. government tor the occasion. The explosive blank shells used in the mortars were constructed especially for these big guns by an expert fire-works manufacturer. More than 500 of these shells are used in the battle scenes. They cost thousands of dollars. In directing the battle scenes, Mr. Griffith used field telephones, flag signals, field couriers and even a captive balloon.


These methods were not used as part of the army equipment, but were merely used by Mr. Griffith in staging the production. He used the modern war methods to better execute the methods of 1861 -65. The artillery duels present one of Die most striking features of the picture: “The Clansman” describes the organization and motives of the famous Ku Klux Klan, and shows more than 2000 of these white-hooded riders in their raids on the negroes. Gen. Sherman’s historical march to the sea, together with the burning of the entire city of Atlanta, is shown in the picture. The burning of Atlanta is shown at night. The entire city with its countless number of buildings and dwellings is shown in the destruction.

lillian gish - nacimiento-de-una-nación - the birth of a nation

A terrific battle between Ku Klux riders and negro troops, provides another thrilling feature. The assassination of President Lincoln by Wilkes Booth, is shown for the first time in the history of motion pictures. The final scenes of “The clansman” provide the most powerful sermons that could possibly be preached against the horrors of war. “The Clansman” is presented by an all-star cast including Henry Walthall, Mae Marsh, Miriam Cooper, Josephine Crowell, Spottiswoode Ailken, Balph Lewis, Lillian Gish, Elmer Clifton, Robert Harron, George Seigmann, Walter Long. Mary Alden, Joseph Hennebery, Sam de Grasse, Howard Gave, Donald Crisp, Win. De Vaull, and Jennie Lee.

  • Grass Valley Department – 1916
  • Morning Union, 8 January 1916
Morning Union, 8 January 1916 Birth of a Nation
Morning Union, 8 January 1916 Birth of a Nation

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d.w. griffith and robert harron taking a lunch break during the filming of the birth of a nation


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Hollywood – By BOB THOMAS – The Associated Press (1945)

San Pedro News Pilot, Volume 18, Number 202, 26 October 1945


By BOB THOMAS – The Associated Press

Hollywood—Movie making has not changed much in 30 years, says Dorothy Gish, and she ought to know. “Should I ask when you made your first picture?” I inquired cautiously. You know how touchy actresses are about their age. “Certainly you may ask,” she responded graciously

Dorothy Gish Television Show Behind the Scenes 5502156

“It was in 1912. In that year we made a one-reel drama for D. W. Griffith.” Miss Gish had made her stage debut at the age of four, as a “male impersonator,” playing Willie in “East Lynn.’ She swears to this day she has a reversion to wearing pants because of Hat role. During their early stage careers, Dorothy and Lillian became close friends with another girl actress, Gladys Smith. One day the sisters saw their friend in a movie and they called the film studio to talk to her. The studio declared there was no Gladys Smith there, but there was a star, Mary Pickford, who formerly bore that name. The girls figured if Gladys could do it, they could, and went to see D. W. Griffith. He put them right into a picture. “My sister and I played two girls whose brother left them in the cook’s care when he went to work,” she related. “But it turned out the cook was in cahoots with a robber and they threatened us. Finally we got to a telephone and our brother arrived just in time.’ Right now Miss Gish is acting in a somewhat more sophisticated picture called “Centennial Summer.” But she claims the art of making pictures has not changed much.

“You have the same long waits while the camera and lights are set up,” she said. “And acting has not changed much except that you can use your voice instead of relying merely on pantomime. “One thing about acting in pictures now—it is much easier. You don’t have to do a thing. You come in the morning and someone fixes your hair. Then someone else dresses you in your costume. All you have to do is act. “In the old days we did all that ourselves. Also I would often design my own costumes.

In fact, I knew nearly everything about film making. If there was a new cameraman on the picture, I could show him how to light my face to the best advantage.” As for the actual shooting of a picture, not much has been developed since the early silent days, she said. Even the boom shots which her director, Otto Preminger, is fond of are nothing new. She said D. W. Griffith took some of his spectacle shots in “Intolerance” from a moving wooden platform. It might be pertinent to add, however, that actors’ salaries have changed quite a bit since those days.

BOB THOMAS – The Associated Press

Intolerance -  shooting A Ride To The Rescue (Modern Story) D. W. Griffith, American film master
Intolerance – shooting A Ride To The Rescue (Modern Story)


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Tribute to Gish telecast – April 17, 1984

Desert Sun, Number 209, 4 April 1984

Tribute to Gish telecast April 17

By Copley News Service

AFI Life Achievement Award A Tribute to Lillian Gish (1984) with AFI founder George Stevens Jr - Photo - Globe
AFI Life Achievement Award A Tribute to Lillian Gish (1984) with AFI founder George Stevens Jr – Photo – Globe

HOLLYWOOD The American Film Institute tribute to Lillian Gish, to be telecast April 17 over CBS, may bring back silent pictures. George Stevens Jr., founder of the AFI and producer of the salute, says among the reasons Gish was chosen to receive the Institute’s Life Achievement Award is her status as a silent screen star. The tribute program is therefore laced with clips from her pretalkie movies, so intriguing that the public may demand to see the rest of each picture.

ap wire press photo lillian gish, george stevens jr, life achievement award 84

Gish’s most famous movie is D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation,” set during the horrors of the Reconstruction. Lauded by film historians for its innovations it introduced the close-up for example it’s been damned in recent years as a racist exaggeration, a damnable lie, a rotten diatribe. Gish defends the film, taking the attitude that, if anything rotten has been going around, it’s been attacks against the movie from the uninformed.

Copley News Service – April 1984

AFI founder George Stevens Jr. and actress Lillian Gish
AFI founder George Stevens Jr. and actress Lillian Gish at the American Film Institute’s 10th Anniversary Gala in Washington, D.C..Photos at White House, Georgetown and Kennedy Center..Article title Eye View


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Lillian Gish in Annie Laurie – Lola Todd (1927)

Madera Tribune, Volume XLI, Number 38, 16 December 1927


Lola Todd

Annie Laurie beloved in song and romance through the centuries whose name is one to call up visions of the romantic highlands and the delicate sentiment of Robert Burns and the ancient bards Annie Laurie has come to life again. She held big audiences enthralled with her charm, and the charm of the romantic land of her birth; the mighty romance of Scotland, last night at the National theatre, when “Annie Laurie,” Lillian Gish’s new’ vehicle, was shown and will again he shown tonight.

ANNIE LAURIE, Norman Kerry, Lillian Gish, 1927

Lillian Gish literally is Annie Laurie. Those who imagined her as a myth or legend will be amazed at the actual woman;  Miss Gish is a faithful portrayer of the real Annie Laurie, who lived centuries ago whose love and whose heroism turned the tide of Scottish history in a real life drama more powerful than any imagined by a scenarist; and whose romance has come down to the world in song of the ancient bard. “Annie Laurie” is a tremendous drama of history. It deals with the gigantic ferment and struggle in Scotland that culminated in the Glencoe Massacre.

ANNIE LAURIE, Norman Kerry (links), Lillian Gish (Mitte), Direktor John S. Robertson, am Set, 1927

It is all laid on actual fact. Miss Gish, as the historic daughter of Sir Robert Laurie, chief of Clan Campbell, approaches the genius of Bernhardt, but always coupled with her own ethereal charm, in the mighty drama, in which she enacts the Scottish Joan of Arc. Norman Kerry plays the hero as a chieftain of the enemy clan of MacDonald. The great battle scenes, with hordes of six foot wanders in tartans and plaids, battling with shield and claymore—the majesty of the ancient Scotch castles these all add glamor. But the charm of Lillian Gish pervades it all.

Special Poster 2 sheets Annie Laurie

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Weeps at Own Play – 1919 (Los Angeles Herald)

Los Angeles Herald, Volume XLIV, Number 290, 6 October 1919


(Broken Blossoms)

Lillian Gish has been the heroine in many Griffith pictures, but no other film in which she has appeared hits made so deep an impression upon her as “Broken Blossoms,” which is now being presented at Clune’s auditorium. She saw the photoplay on the opening night in New York, she saw it in San Francisco and in other cities, and now that it is being presented in Los Angeles she is seeing it at every opportunity.

Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess - Broken Blossoms
Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess – Broken Blossoms

And, it is said, she weeps softly every time she sees it. Critics throughout the country have declared that the work Miss Gish does in this picture has placed her in the forefront of modern tragediennes, and one enthusiastic reviewer coupled her name with that of Bernhardt. But it is not to see Lillian Gish, the actress, that Miss Gish so often visits Clune’s  Auditorium to sit alone and watch the tragic tale as it is unfolded on the screen. It is the story that Griffith has moulded that enthralls her.

Lillian Gish - Lucy, the girl (Broken Blossoms)
Lillian Gish – Lucy, the girl (Broken Blossoms)

It is so natural, so artistic, that it has almost become part of her life. “’Broken Blossoms’ is by far the most wonderful thing we have done,” said Miss Gish. ‘‘lt is my pet picture. Some people say it is 100 true to life. Only a few nights ago as I sat in the theater, a woman said to the man seated beside her, ‘I won’t look at it, I can’t. I want to go home.’ But he was apparently wrapped up in the play and kept saying to her ‘Shut your eyes, then, if you don’t want to see it. I won’t go home. It is wonderful’.“ I like stories that reflect life. That is why I love ‘Broken Blossoms.’ Because it is real, ‘Broken Blossoms’ should be seen at least twice by every one.

Lillian Gish and Donald Crisp in Broken Blossoms
Lillian Gish and Donald Crisp in Broken Blossoms

I think pictures, books and people should be met twice. We never discover all of any person at one meeting; why should we only read a book through once or see a picture once. “People are not usually honest at the first meeting. They are likely to be excited or not at ease, and we don’t get truthful impressions. The same is true about especially such a picture as ‘Broken Blossoms.’ ” (Miss Lillian Gish)

Above: The Closet Scene – “Broken Blossoms”

Lucy's smile ... (Broken Blossoms)
Lucy’s smile … (Broken Blossoms)

Los Angeles Herald, 6 October 1919

Los Angeles Herald 6 October 1919
Los Angeles Herald 6 October 1919


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