Actress breaks ‘Kate Jackson Doll’ (Minneapolis Tribune – 1981)

  • Minneapolis Tribune – February 15, 1981 (Page 30)
  • Actress breaks ‘Kate Jackson Doll’

Charleston S.C. – Sitting in Charleston under a hair dryer, preparing to go out into 105 – degree heat and pretend that it was a cool spring day, Kate Jackson told us how her acting career was back on the track.

She stars as Linda Rivers, a 26-year old high school teacher who has a controversial love affair with a 18-year-old student, in “Thin Ice” at 8 p.m. on the “CBS Tuesday Night Movies.”

As she prepared for a scene with Lillian Gish, legendary star who portrays her grandmother, Jackson reflected on her career.

She was born in Birmingham, Ala., and attended college at Ole Miss, but she didn’t participate in theater ventures there. “The theater people were considered weird people,” Jackson said, “I hope that’s no longer true. But when I was in school, all the talented kids who played the flute or wanted to act where made fun of. I worry about the sensitive people who are so easily crushed, simply because the values of our society are so misplaced.

“My way around that was to just not tell anyone I wanted to be an actress. I figured I would just go and do it, and then the other people could talk about it.”

That’s what she did. At 19 she moved to New York, where she enrolled in a two-year course at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. When she graduated, her class’s graduation speaker was Gish.

LILLIAN GISH (SIGNED photo) starring in ‘THIN ICE’ – WITH KATE JACKSON

“I remember she said she couldn’t stand behind the podium because she was too short,” Jackson recalled, “so she stepped around and stood in front of it. Then she proceeded to say wonderful, encouraging things to us, just the very things you would expect a sensitive woman to say to graduates who have a dream that is to extremely difficult to achieve.”

After a nine-month stint on “Dark Shadows” daytime series, Jackson became the female lead in the police action series “The Rookies,” which ran from 1972 to 1976. She went straight from that into the role of Sabrina Carver on “Charlie’s Angels,” starring for three seasons until 1979. During her stint on this series, she admitted, she began to lose perspective on her career.

“I don’t want to knock that series,” she began, “because that show did a lot of good things for me. But during those years I got distracted by the very things that I had always promised myself I would be never distracted by – namely, the hype and the huge amounts of money.

“It becomes funny money. It doesn’t mean anything. Yet, at the same time, it’s pretty hard to quit. It’s hard to look a million dollars in the face and tell it to get into somebody else’s pocket.

“But that third year, I was beginning the question why I disliked the thing that I knew I loved most in the world – acting. I’d reached a point where I not only didn’t love to act, I didn’t even know why I acted.

“You tend to lose perspective when there’s a Kate Jackson Doll. But I knew that I had become an actress in order to communicate with people. I didn’t want to be a Kate Jackson Doll. I didn’t want to be a Kate Jackson lunch box.

“Now,” she said, “once again I’m working for the right reasons – because of the artist that I hope is inside me. And on this particular project I find again all the reasons that I wanted to become an actress in the first place. Now I know why I act, and love it again.

In Tuesday’s movie Jackson portrays Linda Rivers, a South Carolina history teacher whose husband died three years earlier. Rather than renew an active social life, she lives with her grandmother (Gish) and focuses her energies on teaching. By chance during spring vacation, she spends time with 18-year-old Paul McCormick (Gerard Prendergast), one of her students. Almost against her will, they fall in love and enter into an involvement.

Fully aware of the danger in their relationship, Linda and Paul go to great lengths to keep their involvement discreet. But when news of their affair leaks, a community controversy erupts that dramatically alters their lives and compels the couple to confront the seriousness of their actions.

Gish recalled the script “beautiful and intelligent.” She said, “I feel so guilty. My agents are darling with me. They send me scripts by the dozen. If I were starving, maybe I would have to do them. But I’m not, so I don’t.

“Then I was sent ‘Thin Ice’. I said I’d be delighted to be in it because at last, here was a script for adults.”

KATE JACKSON LILLIAN GISH “THIN ICE” – 1981 CBS TV

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The history of movies is the history of Lillian Gish – By Mike Hughes (San Bernardino Sun, 1988)

  • San Bernardino Sun, 11 July 1988
  • The history of movies is the history of Lillian Gish
  • By Mike Hughes Gannett News Service

She was born in a quieter century, in a cozier part of the world. Risks were rare, expectations low.  “We were from Ohio,” Lillian Gish says in a film to be broadcast a 9 tonight on KVCR. (American Masters) “Ladies had their name in print when they were born, when they got married and when they died but NEVER for anything else.” But fate intervened and her career has embraced most of the history of movies. Now it’s recalled in a masterful opener for the “American Masters” season. Here is a life that can be illustrated through 106 movies spread over 75 years. And here is someone interviewed at just the right time; at 93, Gish overflows with rich  memories. Her quiet Ohio life was disrupted because her father couldn’t keep work. Her mother “the most perfect human being I ever knew” told him not to come back until he could. “He would follow us around and beg Mother to take him back,” she says in the film. “But he didn’t have a job.” So the Gishes turned to the stage for money. At the ages of 5 and 4, Lillian and her sister Dorothy became touring actresses, They were quite haughty about it, feeling sorry for their friend, Gladys Smith, who “had to go to the movies to make a living.” But Gladys did well, after changing her name to Mary Pickford. Pickford also introduced them to D.W. Griffith, Hollywood’s first great director. “He said, ‘Can you act?’ And Dorothy pulled herself up and said, ‘We are of the legitimate theater.’ And he said, ‘I don’t mean reading lines. Can you act’?”” They could.

American Film Institute salute to actress Lillian Gish – – Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois)17 Apr 1984, Tue Page 37

Lillian Gish A long life and a lot of memories

Beginning in 1912, these teens and their incredibly expressive faces were being molded by a master. “Griffith got into films in 1908, and by the time I got (there), he had given films their form and grammar.” Gish was in the movie that made him famous “Birth of a ‘Nation,” released in 1915 and “Intolerance,” the one that destroyed him just a year later. “Theaters wouldn’t take it,” Gish says of the latter film’s original, marathon length. “And he cut it and ruined it. Because it still remains the greatest film ever made.” She bridles at the way he was treated after that. “He couldn’t take orders from business people. It was just not possible.” And other Hollywood attitudes grate on her. Once, movie mogul Louis Mayer suggested that Gish (who has never married) start a scandal to generate publicity. She also complains about the characters she was given (“I played those little virgins that after five minutes you got so sick of’) and the industry’s obsession with happy endings, Tonight’s “Masters” provides a vivid example of that the absurd new ending ordered by the studio for “The Wind,” in 1928. “Frances Marion, who did the script, never took anything in film seriously again, and I came back to the theater,” Gish remembers. She would retreat often to the stage, but certainly didn’t forget Hollywood and her life’s work: “I never doubted film was the mind and heartbeat of our century,” she says.

In recent summers, PBS’ Monday lineup has come as a vibrant surprise. “Masters” crafts portraits with intelligence and detail; “Alive From Off Center” is both deft and daft. And now both start their new seasons in appropriate style. “Off Center” (10 p.m. locally) has two mismatched films a witty and stylish satire of a high-tech ad agency and a pointless and (almost) endless segment from the movie “Aria.” And “Masters” (9 p.m.) is at its very best with the Gish profile.

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Interviewing Lillian Gish

Interviewing-Lillian-Gish

“We got along all right on that one, I’d say. I did everything I could do to please her, of course. I don’t recall ever having had an actor or an actress with whom I couldn’t get along. I’ve never thought about my being first or second in the billing, and I never brought up the fact that my name should be used, above or below the title. If it wasn’t used it was better for me, I thought, because of my family. I just never had any big head about “me,” and I always felt that I was so lucky. Everyone was so good to me throughout my career, and I can say in all honesty that I don’t recall having had a quarrel with anyone ever.” (Lillian Gish – The Whales of August)

From the outset, Gish took her responsibility to this new medium very seriously, and as early as 1913, she was quoted as saying: “To play for the pictures is mostly a matter of the face and of learning to think inside.” Griffith himself, in 1914, stated modestly: “I did not ‘teach’ the players with whom my name is linked. We developed together; we found ourselves in a new art, and, as we discovered the possibilities of that art, we learned together.”

Gish remembers Selznick as a man of taste: “He was delightful for me to work with. He was charming and intelligent, and all the consideration he showed to Jennifer [his then wife, Jennifer Jones], he showed to me as well.” (Duel in the Sun)

Gish’s most important film role in recent years was as the grandmother in Robert Altman’s A Wedding (1978): “Robert Altman had no script but he came to see me and told me the story. It had so many characters I really couldn’t make head nor tails of it, but he told me I was to die with comedy. Well, that intrigued me. It was a challenge. I had died every way except that, and I accepted the part because it would be a new experience. I am very glad I did.” Interviewed upon completion of that film, Altman commented on Gish’s death scene: “She went out rather beautifully. . . . She had a smile on her face, that famous smile, lingering, fading like a candle being blown out.”

In “Broken Blossoms,” for instance, and in “Way Down East,” I had physical distress to help me out. My appeal was in a measure made for me. I always had something the matter with me. In one I was a poor, frail, half-living little thing and in the other a down-trodden, storm-tossed girl. As Henriette I was well taken care of, beloved by the dashing Chevalier, watched over by Danton. Of course, I had lost my sister, but I was not sure that she was not well cared for, too. I had to make the loss of my sister and my instinctive fear for her overshadow my own personal well-being. That made Henriette a more difficult role than any I have yet played. (Motion Picture Magazine 1922)

“ I don’t believe I had more than two weeks off in the past year,” she remarked. “I did a season of Shakespeare up in Stratford, Conn. Then I came right out here for “Follow Me Boys” at the Disney Studios. “After that, I went back to New York to begin rehearsals for ‘Anya,’ which George Abbott directed. It was a beautiful play which lasted only a month in New York because of three bad reviews. I think it will have the same fate as ‘Porgy and Bess,’ which did poor business because of reviews when it opened, then was reviewed to become an American classic.

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A Celebration of The Performing Arts – San Bernardino Sun, 1982

  • San Bernardino Sun, Volume 109, Number 353, 19 December 1982
  • TV Week, December 19, 1982
  • The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of The Performing Arts

George Abbott, Lillian Gish, Gene Kelly (top, l-r), Eugene Ormandy and Benny Goodman (bottom, l.c), are five distinguished American artists who have been chosen by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. D C , as recipients of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors, the nation’s highest distinction for performing artists. Walter Cronkite (bottom, r), will host The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, the fifth annual entertainment gala honoring the lifetime achievement of performing artists, airing on CBS, Saturday at 8PM An array of top stars from various realms of the performing arts, many of them colleagues of the recipients, will entertain at the invitational black-tie event, a benefit for the Kennedy Center. The honorees, whose artistic excellence is world renowned, have been chosen by the Kennedy Center trustees as “individuals who throughout their lifetimes have contributed greatly to American culture through the performing arts ” Roger L Stevens, chairman of the Kennedy Center, notes that the awards, now in their fifth year, were intended to demonstrate that “this nation does recognize the intrinsic value of the arts” and they “have now become a national tradition.”

The Kennedy Center Honors – San Bernardino Sun 1982

Kennedy Center Honors 1982 – Gallery

1982 DC Ronald Reagan – Lillian Gish (Kennedy Center)

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She Brought Her Own Shoes (Hobson’s Choice) – San Bernardino Sun, 1983

San Bernardino Sun, Volume 110, Number 352, 18 December 1983

She Brought Her Own Shoes

Lillian Gish has a problem. “A lot of people I know send me scripts,” she said “It’s difficult to say no to a friend. It’s hard to say I’m not suited for it, or it doesn’t appeal to me.” So it was with some trepidation that the legendary film star opened the script to Hobson’s Choice, which had been sent to her by her good friend, Gilbert Cates. He had produced Never Sang for My Father, in which Miss Gish starred on Broadway in 1968. Now he was directing Hobson’s Choice. But as she read the script, her fears vanished. “It’s the best script I’ve seen in two years,” she enthused. “That includes plays, feature films, anything. I get scripts by dozens. I wouldn’t be caught dead in any of them. They’re awful. But this was a story with a beginning, a middle and end, I like it.” In fact, she liked it enough to say yes to her friend Gil Cates.

Richard Thomas Sharon Gless Jack Warden Lillian Gish – Hobson’s Choice 1983

Now Lillian Gish can be seen in one of her rare television roles, in Hobson’s Choice, new motion picture-for-television, airing on The CBS Wednesday Night Movies at 9PM. When she traveled to New Orleans for her special guest star role as a wealthy; satisfied patron of a local shoe store, Miss Gish brought along part of her costume: a pair of black suede shoes. “The shoes are very important to my character,” she explained. “They need to be right. I took along a pair of shoes I’d bought in Florence, Italy, in the early 1920s. I’ve never seen a shoe like it in this country. Here we are, sixty years later, and I still wear these shoes regularly.” According to director Gilbert Cates, it’s typical that this venerable actress would pay special attention to the one part of her wardrobe that is central to her character. “The really remarkable thing about Lillian Gish,” the director said, “is her ability to go straight to the intent of any scene. Some actors can deliver a scene letter perfect and not know what it’s about. With Lillian Gish, it’s not even important whether the words are perfect or not. Everything she says has the right color, the right flavor, the right intent.” “But you see,” the actress explained, “that’s because of my years in silent films with D. W. Griffith. He would only give us the plot. Then it was up to us to find the character. As we would rehearse the story, we’d improvise our dialogue. The cutter would take down what we said, and our words often became the subtitles, since they were borne out in the action.”

1983 Richard Thomas Lillian Gish Hobsons Choice

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Lillian Gish, 99, enduring star spanning the history of movies (Chicago Tribune – March 01, 1993)

Chicago Tribune – Monday, March 01, 1993 – Page 55

Lillian Gish, 99, enduring star spanning the history of movies

From Chicago Tribune wires

NEW YORK – Lillian Gish, the last of the great silent film stars who went on to perform for more than 85 years in movies, theater and television, has died at age 99. Her personal manager, James E. Frasher, said she died in her sleep Saturday evening of heart failure.

“She was the same age as film,” Frasher said. “They both cam into the world in 1893.”

Miss Gish still was performing as recently as the late 1980s. In 1986, she appeared as Alan Alda’s hilariously addled mother in “Sweet Liberty” and in 1987 she was praised for her sensitive portrayal of an indomitable old woman in “The Whales of August,” which co-starred another movie legend, Bette Davis.

Mike Kaplan and Lillian Gish during filming for ‘The Whales of August’

“To become an actress, one cannot begin too soon,” said Miss Gish, who made her acting debut at age 5. Under the guidance of director D.W. Griffith, Miss Gish was to become the pre-eminent actress in such classics as “The Birth of a Nation,” “Intolerance,” “Broken Blossoms,” and “Way Down East.”

Lillian Gish as Anna Moore – wearing her Wedding Dress – Way Down East

After performing in dozens of one and two-reel silent movies – with running times of 10 or 20 minutes – and then in the longer Griffith epics, Miss Gish made a successful transition into the “talkies” and later into television.

Between film and television roles, she also worked on the stage. In 1930, she starred as Helena in Jed Harris’ Broadway production of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya,” and in 1973 she appeared as the nurse in Mike Nichols’ revival of the play. She made her last Broadway appearance in 1975, in “A Musical Jubilee.”

Lillian Gish and Mike NicholsUncle Vanya – 1973

Especially in her youth, Miss Gish evoked an aura of fragility, and hers was a vulnerable, waiflike beauty. The renowned theatrical impresario David Belasco pronounced her “the most beautiful blonde I have ever seen.”

Miss Gish, though not always in excellent health, was accustomed to hard work and took a no-nonsense view of her physical attributes.

“I didn’t care about being a beauty,” she said in an interview in 1975. “I wanted to be an actress. When I was in the movies, I didn’t care what I looked like, except for that image up there on the screen. I wanted to create beauty when it was necessary; that’s an inner thing. But if all you have is a façade, it isn’t interesting.”

Throughout her life, Miss Gish remained singularly devoted to her mother and her sister, Dorothy, who was younger, but became an actress about the same time Lillian did. Mrs. Gish died in 1948, after years as an invalid, and Dorothy Gish died in 1968.

Miss Gish never married and leaves no survivors. “I loved a lot of dear men, but luckily I never ruined their lives by marrying them,” she said. “What kind of a marriage would it have been to a wife who worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week?”

FILE – This 1915 file photo shows actress Lillian Gish as she appeared in D.W. Griffith’s movie, “Birth of a Nation.” The film’s cast also included some of the greatest directors of the talking era, among them Raoul Walsh (who played John Wilkes Booth) and John Ford (who played a Klansman). (AP Photo)

The artistic collaboration between Miss Gish and Griffith lasted more than a decade. During that time, she appeared in dozens of Griffith’s short films and starred in most of his critically and economically successful longer ones.

Lillian Gish (Henriette Girard) “Orphans of the Storm”

In some films, she played bit parts; in others, she played several roles; in some, she was the star. All of Griffith’s actors did the same, and it was not until after the success of “The Birth of a Nation” that any received on-screen credit.

Hendrick Sartow, a still photographer who eventually became a cinematographer for Griffith, invented for Miss Gish the “Lillian Gish lens,” *** now called a soft-focus lens, which gives its photographed subject a warmly blurred appearance.

In the mid-1920’s, Miss Gish became embroiled in a long legal battle with Charles Duell, a socialite who had been her financial adviser (and, as she said in 1975, “sort of my Svengali”), over sums she allegedly owed him.

Lillian Gish and The Carrot syndrome 1925

During the trial, Miss Gish munched carrots, and newspaper photographs of her stirred a carrot-chomping fad across the country. Americans had become enchanted with the new artistic aristocracy – the movie stars like Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino and Miss Gish.

Lucy’s smile … (Broken Blossoms)

Earlier, after Miss Gish pushed up the sides of her mouth with her fingers to demonstrate feigned happiness in a movie, the gesture became a much-copied fad.

One Romantic Night – The Swan

Miss Gish made the transition from silents to talkies in 1930 in “One Romantic Night,” with Rod LaRocque and Conrad Nagel. By that time, she had signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. “My contract called for six pictures in two years, for which I was paid, I believe, a million dollars,” she wrote.

Lillian Gish as Ophelia and John Gielgud in Hamlet 1936

Miss Gish made a triumphant return to the stage in 1930 in “Uncle Vanya” on Broadway. In 1936, she played Ophelia to John Gielgud’s Hamlet and Judith Anderson’s Queen Gertrude, and, in 1941, she began a record-breaking 66-week run in “Life With Father” in Chicago. In 1960, she starred in “All the Way Home” on Broadway.

Life With Father – Lillian Gish and Percy Waram

When not before the cameras or an audience, Miss Gish toured the world, lecturing and showing Griffith’s classics.

Lillian Gish holding her Honorary Oscar at the 43rd Academy Awards, April 15th 1971. (Photo by Pictorial Parade Archive Photos)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized her work in 1970, *** presenting her an honorary Oscar, and the American Film Institute presented her its lifetime achievement award for 1984. In 1982, she received the Kennedy Center Honor.

1982 DC Ronald Reagan – Lillian Gish (Kennedy Center)

She said current movie-making methods had ruined the quality of acting.

“No one rehearses anymore, so how do you know what to do? They just do takes 100 times over. Now, distributors make more money on popcorn than on the film, and deservedly so.”

Admin note:

*** Billy Bitzer invented the “Lillian Gish” lens not Sartov

*** The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized Lillian Gish’s work in 1971, not 1970.

Chicago Tribune – Monday, March 01, 1993 – Page 55 Lillian Gish, 99, enduring star spanning the history of movies From Chicago Tribune wires

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Famous Friends (1977)

Actresses Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes have tea in the Gish home in New York before an outing 1977

Famous Friends (1977)

1977 New York:

Actresses Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes have tea in the Gish home in New York before an outing. Asked about their long careers, they agreed that one should always have curiosity and vitality to carry it out. The two have appeared together only once – in a 1956 CBS-TV special, “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Miss Gish is godmother to Miss Hayes’ son, actor James MacArthur, and to her grandson, Charles Macarthur. (August 19, 1977 UPI)

Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes in Central Park NY 1977 – cab horse

Still Just Horsing Around

Actresses Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes team up to share a horse laugh with another veteran entertainer – one of the few remaining cab horses in New York. The women, friends for 56 years, still continue acting.

Actresses Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes — and one of the few remaining cab horses in New York 1977
Actresses Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes with one of the few remaining cab horses in New York 1977
UPI – Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes have tea in the Gish home in New York before an outing 1977

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