The Singing Empress (Stuart Oderman)

lillian gish hal holbrook i never sang for my father by r. anderson w playbill 3a

The Singing Empress (Stuart Oderman)

Lillian had returned to the Broadway theatre after a 3 year absence to appear in Robert Anderson’s I Never Sang for My Father, which concerned itself with the animosity between a father and son, and the son’s lack of feeling as the father dies alone, wheelchair-ridden and filled with hate. The play opened in New York on January 25, 1968, after having done good business during its pre-Broadway engagement in Boston. Lillian told an interviewer from The Boston Herald Traveler how she prepares:

1968--lillian-gish-hal-holbrook-i-never-sang-for-my-father
1968–lillian-gish-hal-holbrook-i-never-sang-for-my-father

When I work on a part, I don’t have a pat formula. I wait for the director to tell me what he wants – then I do it. A strong director like Alan [Schneider] pulls all the performances together. In any medium you need a Boss Man, whether it’s films or theatre or on TY. I learned that early with Griffith.

Lillian Gish, Alan Webb and Hal Holbrook in a scene from the Broadway production of the play I Never Sang For My Father 8
Lillian Gish and Hal Holbrook in a scene from the Broadway production of the play “I Never Sang For My Father”.

Clive Barnes, reviewing I Never Sang for My Father for The New York Times, slaughtered any potential the play might have had for a successful run with his opening line: “A soap opera is a soap opera whichever way you slice the soap.” While citing the acting as often  admirable, and acknowledging the believable poignancy of the situation, Barnes complained that the playwright’s intentions were “betrayed by its over obviousness.” Lillian’s performance was singled out for special mention: Lillian Gish’s delicately fluttering mother, warm and attractive, is another performance worthy of a more productive cause. Lillian spoke to this biographer during the first week of the play’s 124-performance run. I Never Sang for My Father, like All the Way Home, is a work with autobiographical overtones. Both plays aren’t what you would call happy Saturday night fare. The lack of communication between father and son is a mighty theme that will forever be constantly explored.

Lillian Gish, Alan Webb and Hal Holbrook in a scene from the Broadway production of the play I Never Sang For My Father 7
Lillian Gish (R), Alan Webb (2L) and Hal Holbrook (2R) in a scene from the Broadway production of the play “I Never Sang For My Father”.

Many things in I Never Sang were stated, as if that should be enough. This is not an Arthur Miller play with a lot of shrieking and fingerpointing accusations and somebody not being there during hard times. Robert Anderson is obviously not a New York thirties protest writer. He writes with restraint and grace and he doesn’t skirt the issues. It took courage to mount this play in a Broadway theatre instead of an off-Broadway house.

the movies mr. griffith and me (03 1969) - hal holbrook and lillian in robert anderson's 1967 play i never sang for my father— with lillian gish.
the movies mr. griffith and me (03 1969) – hal holbrook and lillian in robert anderson’s 1967 play i never sang for my father— with lillian gish.

Hal Holbrook, playing the son who doubles as narrator, does a splendid job of holding everything together, like the Stage Manager did in Our Town. I always felt, when I read the script for the first time, that Anderson’s play should have been a novel, too. So much of the narration plays like prose. I think the play would have a larger audience. Although the play kept Lillian living and working in New York while Dorothy was in Rapollo, Italy, there were weekly visits.

Lillian Gish, Alan Webb and Hal Holbrook in a scene from the Broadway production of the play I Never Sang For My Father 10
Lillian Gish and Hal Holbrook in a scene from the Broadway production of the play “I Never Sang For My Father”.

Lillian’s understudy, former silent film actress Lois Wilson, who had starred in Miss Lulu Bett, The Covered Wagon, and The Great Gatsby, recalled Lillian’s often repeated pattern after the Sunday matinee:

We were playing 3 mats a weekWednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. As soon as the curtain comes down: boom! Lillian dashes down the stairs and right into the taxi waiting to scoot her to Kennedy for a flight to Rome. She’d arrive early the next day, get to Rapollo and stay a day with Dorothy, and then fly back here. Somehow she’d grab a few hours of sleep on the cot in her dressing room and manage to do her show. Thank God for time zones.

Lillian Gish Helen Hayes and Bob Crane (Arsenic)
Lillian Gish Helen Hayes and Bob Crane (Arsenic)

Playing eight shows a week were demanding in themselves, but the visits to Dorothy were beginning to sap her strength. During one of her visits to Rapollo, Lillian was invited to co-star with her longtime friend, actress Helen Hayes, in a television production of Joseph Kesselring’s hit homicidal comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace. Lillian and Helen would be playing two sweet, elderly ladies, sisters, who murder lonely old men after extending an invitation to them to visit and sample their special elderberry wine. Helen Hayes jokingly told this author at their first meeting that she and Lillian had known each other forever.41 In actuality, their friendship, according to close friends, started around 1930. When Lillian had become frustrated with Hollywood after her sound debut in One Romantic Night and decided to return to New York, stage star Helen Hayes had just signed a film contract and was on her way to the coast to begin shooting what was later released as The Sin of Madeline Claudet.

Helen Hayes said: Lillian and I both came up the same way: touring in shows when we were children. Lillian went into films, and I kept on doing stage work.

Lillian Gish - Uncle Vanya
Lillian Gish – Uncle Vanya

Lillian came back to work for Jed Harris in Uncle Vanya, which was her Broadway debut, although she had done stage work many years earlier. She said her voice didn’t record right [on film], and not to expect very much. In those early days of sound, if the studio felt your voice didn’t match your look, you had no future, no chance. Luckily, I came from the stage, and I have no previous silent film career. There were no preconceptions on the part of any producer regarding how I sound on film. I knew that stage people were in demand, and they took us as we were. I spoke 8 shows a week. No amplification. If producers or their scouts could hear us in the last row of the balcony, we were approached with a contract.

Voices were what landed the contract. Faces were what maintained them. Lillian’s voice didn’t register then or now as the sound of a damsel-in-distress, the type she played in those Griffith films. Lillian in those days was a face. I was never a face. I was a stage character.

Helen Hayes and Lillian Gish - Promo for Arsenic and Old Lace
Helen Hayes and Lillian Gish – Promo for Arsenic and Old Lace

Lillian’s three weeks of rehearsals for Arsenic and Old Lace required that she rise before eight in the morning, report to the television studio at ten, rehearse until six, have something to eat, and get back to the theatre by seven, the required half-hour before the curtain went up. It was well after midnight when she would arrive home. With Sunday rehearsals, it meant she was working without a day off. Working straight through the week was nothing unusual for Lillian. A 7-day workweek was commonplace when she began acting in one-reelers for Mr. Griffith in 1912. A full day in a full week in 1968, more than half a century later, made Lillian realize she had come full circle. As long as work was available, she would take it! During rehearsals for Arsenic and Old Lace, Lillian preferred to dine at Longchamps because of their flattering lighting. Lillian had maintained her annual overseas trips for injections of lamb embryos in an effort to keep her looking young. Longchamps had low lights, which didn’t throw too much attention on anyone. Lillian was fearful of looking older and not being able to get any work.

Arsenic and Old Lace
Arsenic and Old Lace

Helen observed: Sometimes she [Lillian Gish] is so closely in tune with her own  drummer she misses the beat of what is going on around her…. All her clothes date from 40 years, but the dresses are still elegant … and they still fit. When it came to work, she’s still sharp as a tack.

Lillian Gish, Helen Hayes and Bob Crane - Arsenic and Old Lace
Lillian Gish, Helen Hayes and Bob Crane – Arsenic and Old Lace

For the final week of rehearsals, prior to the actual taping, Lillian was rising at five to be ready for makeup at seven. Because the taping went beyond the usual time, Lillian missed two performances of the play. Lois Wilson played them. I Never Sang for My Father ended its run on May 11. Shortly afterwards a telephone call from Rapollo informed Lillian that Dorothy had contracted bronchial pneumonia. Three hours later, Lillian was on a plane bound for Italy. With Lillian at her bedside, 70-yearold Dorothy died on June 5, 1968. Next to the passing of her mother, Lillian would regard Dorothy’s death as the second greatest tragedy of her life. Lillian had been raised by her mother to always look after Dorothy because she was younger and more playful. Now that Lillian was alone, she would only have to look after herself. Otherwise they’ll hire another little girl…

Lillian Gish – A Life on Stage and Screen by STUART 0DERMAN

Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish Signed full frame 1919
Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish Signed full frame 1919

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1985 – 86)

American Playhouse, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1985 – 86)

Time and tenacity were important factors in the broadcasting of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn the following winter (1986) on educational television stations. There is no doubt that Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is an important American novel. Whether it is the American masterpiece will always be a topic of debate.

Twain’s compelling portrait of two dispossessed souls (Huck, a poor, beaten white boy, and Jim, a black man on the run from the degradation of slavery) is a powerful image. The television adaptation of Huckleberry Finn in four episodes over a month’s duration was not necessarily the most convincing way to bring this classic to the small screen. Although the story was approached with care and sensitivity, Jim, no matter how clean cut and sanitized, is still believed by many black Americans to be a cultural stereotype, so that he is articulate and does not rely on dialect does not raise his station.

Adventures of Huck Finn PBS Playhouse 1986 Lillian Gish

In the second episode, Lillian appeared as Mrs. Judith Loftus, an elderly lady who lives in a shack away from the town and senses that the young girl who calls herself Sarah Mary Williams or Mary Sarah Williams doesn’t catch a tossed lump of yarn like a young girl would.

While the production utilized the top drawer talents of Richard Kiley, Barnard Highes, Sada Thompson, Jim Dale, and Geraldine Page in supporting roles, their appearances, wrote television critic John O’Connor for The New York Times, “fell into the category of standard guest shots, mildly interesting and looking a bit hurried.”  (Stuart Oderman)

Lillian Gish Patrick Day Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Huckleberry Finn, a rambunctious boy adventurer chafing under the bonds of civilization, escapes his humdrum world and his selfish, plotting father by sailing a raft down the Mississippi River.

 

  • Director: Peter H. Hunt
  • Writers: Guy Gallo, Mark Twain (novel)
  • Stars: Patrick Day, Jim Dale, Frederic Forrest

The cast:

Huck Patrick Day ……………………………… Huck
Miss Watson Anne Shropshire ……………………………… Miss Watson
Widow Douglas Sada Thompson ……………………………… Widow Douglas
Tom Sawyer Eugene Oakes ……………………………… Tom Sawyer
Jim Samm-Art Williams ……………………………… Jim
Pap Finn Frederic Forrest ……………………………… Pap Finn
Mrs Loftus Lillian Gish ……………………………… Mrs Loftus
Col. Grangerford Richard Kiley ……………………………… Col. Grangerford
The Duke Jim Dale ……………………………… The Duke
The King Barnard Hughes ……………………………… The King
Blind Negress Butterfly McQueen ……………………………… Blind Negress
Sally Phelps Geraldine Page ……………………………… Sally Phelps
Billy Jason Hankins ……………………………… Billy

Based on the beloved tale by Mark Twain, this made-for-television movie follows tenacious young Huckleberry Finn (Patrick Day) as he fakes his own death to escape his abusive father, Pap (Frederic Forrest). Heading down the Mississippi River, Huck encounters a runaway slave, Jim (Samm-Art Williams), and joins him on his travels. Along the way, Huck and Jim run into an array of eccentric characters, including a shifty duo known as the Duke (Jim Dale) and the King (Barnard Hughes).

Adventures of Huck Finn PBS Playhouse 1986 Houston Chronicle Library
Adventures of Huck Finn PBS Playhouse 1986 Houston Chronicle Library

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Only the Best – A Celebration of Gift Giving in America

Only the Best

A Celebration of Gift Giving in America

By Stuart E. Jacobson

The wonder is that gift giving has never before had a book of its own—so basic is the giving impulse to the human spirit, so ancient its lineage and so all-pervasive its tradition. Only the Best, taking America as its particular province, is a deserved and delectable tribute to the art of elegant and imaginative gift giving. Exquisitely illustrated with scores of large color  photographs, this unique book carries the reader into the lives of some of the best-known and most influential Americans. Amazing, endearing, and amusing in turn are the intimate glimpses these pages afford into personal relations as expressed in gestures of generosity.

Gift giving in America is a tradition and a talent. We give gifts the way we go to the office, routinely and continually—if not always as conventionally. Reflecting our tendency to flamboyance and our inclination for the sentimental, gift giving in America has reached from the gilded edges of the marketplace to the innermost corners of the heart.

Grandma Moses and Lillian Gish - star of 1952 television drama
Grandma Moses and Lillian Gish – star of 1952 television drama based on My Life History – Moses autobiography

Grandma Moses to Lillian Gish

Lillian Gish: “Grandma Moses gave me this painting a little after I did the film ‘Grandma Moses’. She came to my home for dinner with her daughter. Her daughter was an old woman, but Grandma wasn’t. She didn’t know how to say no, and she didn’t know about the market value of her paintings. Nancy Hamilton, writer and producer of such musical reviews as ‘One for the Money and Two for the Show’, wanted to buy one, but it was too expensive, and Grandma said, ‘We could cut it in two and sell her half.’ “I remember asking her, ‘Grandma, you have lived so much longer than I, are there things you know that you could tell me that would help me with my life?’ And she thought for a long time and said, ‘You know, if I have a problem, I do the very best I can; and then I say, Ishkabibble, which in real language means It’s in God’s hands.’ It was so beautiful for her to tell me that. Grandma to me represented what America was all about.”

Only the best : a celebration of gift giving in America - Lillian Gish and a gift painting from Grandma Moses
Only the best : a celebration of gift giving in America – Lillian Gish and a gift painting from Grandma Moses

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Nearly 200 top stars shine at benefit show – 1982

Desert Sun, Number 166, 15 February 1982

Nearly 200 top stars shine at benefit show

“Night of 100 Stars”

NEW YORK (AP) Elizabeth Taylor flubbed a line and said Queen Victoria celebrated her diamond jubilee in 1997. Liza Minnelli did “New York, New York” backed by a chorus line of seven New York Yankees. And the likes of Al Pacino, James Caan, Roger Moore, Robert De Niro and former New York Mayor John Lindsay high-kicked and sang with Radio City Music Hall’s famed Rockettes. Sunday’s one-night stand featured one of the greatest casts in show business history, which was assembled for a $2 million benefit for the Actors’ Fund of America. Billed as the “Night of 100 Stars,” featuring nearly 200 celebrities and a 36-piece orchestra, the show lasted five and half hours, and played to a sell-out crowd of 5,882 people who paid from $50 to $1.000 a seat to see the glittering extravaganza at the huge midtown Manhattan theater.

The Night of 100 Stars - 1982
The Night of 100 Stars – 1982 Lillian Gish

Despite the show’s length the program was taped and will be edited to a three-hour telecast scheduled for an ABC airing March 8 the audience generally remained cheerful during delays between the more than 40 segments in Sunday’s big show. But they occasionally groaned at repeated scenes in which a huge birthday cake commemorating 100 years of the Actors’ Fund was rolled on stage and candles on it were lit as Helen Hayes, Princess Grace and James Earl Jones ticked off major and minor events in each decade.

Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly - night-of-100-stars
Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly – night-of-100-stars

The audience jumped to its feet, applauding, when an ailing Jimmy Cagney, seated in a chair, was saluted along with other Hollywood superstars from Gene Kelly to Lillian Gish, who joined him on stage. Showcasing the top names of stage, screen, TV and music, “Night of 100 Stars” aimed at raising $2 million for the Actors’ Fund, created in 1882 to help needy members of the entertainment community. President Reagan, a former actor, is to be awarded the fund’s special medal of achievement later. The award last was given to President William Howard Taft in 1910.

AP Wire Press Photo Lillian Gish, Miss Piggy, Radio City Muppets (The Night of 100 Stars)
AP Wire Press Photo Lillian Gish, Miss Piggy, Radio City Muppets (The Night of 100 Stars)

GLAMOUR GALS Miss Piggy of the “Muppets” backs up longtime actress Lillian Gish, during finale of the “Night of 100 Stars” gala benefit Sunday night at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

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Tasteless Film Sex Disturbs Lillian Gish

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Volume 118, Number 256, 31 October 1973

Tasteless Film Sex Disturbs Lillian Gish

BEVERLY HILLS. Calif. (AP) “As an American, I am against censorship of any kind.” remarked Lillian Gish, one of the great stars of the silent screen. She added wistfully, “But I do wish we could do something about taste.” Miss Gish, the fragile beauty of “Birth of a Nation,” “Broken Blossoms” and a host of other silent classics, was paying a return visit to the Hollywood she first saw exactly 60 years ago. She reminisced about the past, particularly her prideful association with D.W. Griffith, but she also talked about present-day films. “Ugliness disturbs me,” she commented, “and much of what is shown on the screen is ugly. Not only in exposure of the human body. I also mean the ugliness of violence. To me, violence is just as offensive as nudity. “Although I do not approve of censorship,

1973 Press Photo Lillian Gish Nov 6 1973 Sun Times B
1973 Press Photo Lillian Gish Nov 6 1973 Sun Times

I wish there were some way to impose taste on the people who make films. It’s not that I mind the portrayal of sex in movies, but sex should be beautiful, an expression of human love. But too often it is made to seem ugly.” A youthful 77, Miss Gish is in the middle of a tour of 30 cities in seven weeks to call attention to her new book. “Dorothy and Lillian Gish,” a $20 family album of the rich careers of the two sisters. She added a historical perspective on the film world’s flirtation with obscenity: “You know. I helped the Italian film industry get started. I went to Rome after the first World War and made the first American film there -The White Sister.’ There was only one broken-down studio in Rome, and we rebuilt it. Then I went to Florence and made another movie, “Romola.”

“I spent two years in Italy, and I had time to learn all about their art. The Italians in the Renaissance went through what our film makers seem to be going through today. Nudity had not been seen before, and at first they exploited it. But then they learned to portray the human body with beauty. “I say to today’s movie makers: Do what you will but do it beautifully.” LillianGish conveyed an air of fragility on the screen, but she is in reality the most resilient of ladies. She has proved that by crossing the country 11 times in the last four years, lecturing to colleges and other audiences on “The Art of the Film.” “I’ve lectured in 41 states only nine to go,” she announced proudly. The barnstorming is a throwback to her childhood, when she and Dorothy toured the country in melodramas.

Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish and Mary Pickford
Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish and Mary Pickford

The Gishes made their movie debuts in 1912 in “An Unseen Enemy,” starring a stage chum they had known as Gladys Smith now she calls herself Mary Pickford. The director was D.W. Griffith. It was the start of Lillian’s long, distinguished association with the greatest of the silent film makers. She recalled her arrival in California in 1913: “There was nothing but citrus groves, all the way from San Bernardino. I remember passing a little Santa Fe station named Gish; I never saw it again or learned why it was so named.

1973 Press Photo Lillian Gish promoting book 1973
1973 Press Photo Lillian Gish promoting book 1973

“Our first studio was in a car barn on Pico Boulevard, and they put rugs over the tracks when we were filming. We worked only in the daytime, of course, because we couldn’t shoot when the light failed.” She recalled Hollywood as “a village full of churches and a white hotel with a verandah where old ladies in California for the winter sat in rocking chairs.” Throughout her career, Miss Gish only lived here when she was working.

Her home was, and still is, New York “an awful, dirty, noisy, filthy city, but still the most exciting place in the world.” She recently ended a run in a play there, “Uncle Vanya,” directed by Mike Nichols and starring George C. Scott and Julie Christie. After touring the United States and England for her book, she may do the film version. After that? “I don’t know. Things just happen to me. I never plan.”

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Volume 118, Number 256, 31 October 1973
Santa Cruz Sentinel, Volume 118, Number 256, 31 October 1973

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Grandma Moses – 1989 (Tom Biracree)

AMERICAN WOMEN of ACHIEVEMENT

Grandma Moses – 1989

TOM BIRACREE

“Remember the Ladies.”

That is what Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John, then a delegate to the Continental Congress, as the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia to form a new nation in March of 1776. “Be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the Husbands. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies,” Abigail Adams warned, “we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”

The Fight for Womens rights
The Fight for Womens rights

The words of Abigail Adams, one of the earliest American advocates of women’s rights, were prophetic. Because when we have not “remembered the ladies,” they have, by their words and deeds, reminded us so forcefully of the omission that we cannot fail to remember them. For the history of American women is as interesting and varied as the history of our nation as a whole. American women have played an integral part in founding, settling, and building our country. Some we remember as remarkable women who—against great odds—achieved distinction in the public arena: Anne Hutchinson, who in the 17th century became a charismatic religious leader; Phillis Wheatley, an 18th-century black slave who became a poet; Susan B. Anthony, whose name is synonymous with the 19th-century women’s rights movement and who led the struggle to enfranchise women; and, in our own century, Amelia Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air. (Matina S. Horner)

Grandma Moses and Lillian Gish - star of 1952 television drama based on My Life History, Moses autobiography
Grandma Moses and Lillian Gish – star of 1952 television drama based on My Life History, Moses autobiography

My Life’s History,

A moving personal account, appeared in 1952. Immensely popular in the United States, it was soon published in England and translated into several foreign languages. Soon after its American publication, the autobiography was made into a television play starring actress Lillian Gish as Grandma Moses.

Grandma Moses, Otto Kallir and Lillian Gish
Grandma Moses, Otto Kallir and Lillian Gish

Painting pictures and writing a book apparently failed to occupy all of Moses’ time. In 1951, she tried a new art form, painting on ceramic tiles. Enjoying the process of making quick sketches of, as she put it, “what the mind may produce,” she created 85 painted tiles in about a year. Some of them, noted Otto Kallir, “are simple designs, almost drawings, with spare use of color; others are little paintings whose flowing colors make interesting effects on the ceramic background.” The public cherished Moses’ zest for life as much as they admired her paintings.

Grandma Moses Her 80th Birthday
Grandma Moses Her 80th Birthday

Americans saw her as living proof that hard work and a positive attitude can pay off, and that life can be rewarding for decades after the age when most people retire. The popular attitude toward Moses was summed up by a 1953 New York Herald Tribune editorial, printed after the artist had appeared at a forum called “New Patterns for Mid-Century Living.”

Grandma Moses
Grandma Moses
Grandma Moses
Grandma Moses

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Lillian Gish Rates Title of ‘Most Durable Star’ – 1965

Desert Sun, Volume 39, Number 28, 6 September 1965

Lillian Gish Rates Title of ‘Most Durable Star’

By VERNON SCOTT – UPI Hollywood

Correspondent HOLLYWOOD (UPI) – The most durable star in screen history has to be Lillian Gish, who starred in D. W. Griffith’s ”Birth of a Nation,” and is still going strong in a new Walt Disney picture.

Follow Me Boys - Lillian Gish
Follow Me Boys – Lillian Gish

The fragile beauty of the great actress remains evident in scenes for Disney’s “Follow Me, Boys” more than a half century after her first trip to Hollywood. Bright-eyed and young in heart, Miss Gish enacts her role as a small town dowager with the same enthusiasm that distinguished her ingenue characterizations in the flickering infant days of the film. And she loves every minute of it. “In all my years and Lord knows how many pictures, I’ve worked with only two authentic geniuses.—Mr. Griffith and Mr. Disney,” she said in the studio commissary during the lunch break. ‘I’ve never lost interest in acting, and I’m still learning. How can anyone ever learn all about the human race?”

Lillian Gish, Fred MacMurray photo from Walt Disneys Follow Me Boys
Lillian Gish, Fred MacMurray photo from Walt Disneys Follow Me Boys

Appears On TV

Nearing 70, Miss Gish makes frequent visits to Hollywood for television appearances, only rarely working in pictures. But on her trips West she unfailingly contacts old friends, among them Donald Crisp who played her father in the ancient “Broken Blossoms” and Mae Marsh, one of her co-stars in “Birth of a Nation,” both of whom work occasionally in movies.

Mae Marsh, Lillian Gish and Donald Crisp 1954
Mae Marsh, Lillian Gish and Donald Crisp 1954
Donald Crisp, Mae Marsh and Lillian Gish 1954
Donald Crisp, Mae Marsh and Lillian Gish

Always a resident of New York City where she is actively engaged in the theater, Miss Gish lives in an apartment house which she owns in Manhattan. Her sister Dorothy lives in a nearby hotel. Next month she will co-star in George Abbott’s new Broadway musical “Anya.”

The thought of retirement never crosses her mind.

Picture in a Day

 ”I think back to the early days when movie makers were poor.” she smiled “We’d complete one-reel pictures in a single day. Our only lighting was the California sunshine and our equipment consisted of a hand cranked camera on a wooden tripod. An actress since childhood, Miss Gish made her professional stage debut at age 5 in “In Convict Stripes.” But it wasn’t until her movies with Griffith, among them “Intolerance,” “Orphans of the Storm” and “Way Down East,” that she became an international star. One of the first. Thousands of glamour girls have come and gone in the intervening years, but Miss Gish endures.

Vernon Scott, September 1965

Desert Sun, Volume 39, Number 28, 6 September 1965
Desert Sun, Volume 39, Number 28, 6 September 1965

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The choice for viewing tonight is ‘Hobson’s Choice’ – Bill Hayden (1983)

San Bernardino Sun, Volume 110, Number 355, 21 December 1983

The choice for viewing tonight is ‘Hobson’s Choice’

By BILL HAYDEN Gannett News Service

Back around 1620, an English livery stable owner named Thomas Hobson had very definite ideas about renting out his horses. Customers either took the horse he picked out or got no steed at all.

From this grew the slang phrase “Hobson’s choice,” meaning taking what’s offered or nothing at all.

Another Hobson doesn’t even offer that choice at least to his daughters. As far as tradesman Henry Horatio Hobson is concerned, the three girls are getting nothing from him. This particular situation is the basis for a light but appealing comic television movie, “Hobson’s Choice,” CBS, tonight at 9.

1983 Richard Thomas Lillian Gish Hobsons Choice VINTAGE TV PHOTO 914A
1983 Richard Thomas Lillian Gish Hobsons Choice

As portrayed by Jack Warden, Henry Hobson is an irascible, pompous, self – important but lovable penny pincher more interested in totally dominating his household and impressing his drinking cronies in New Orleans of 1914 than in running the shoemaking shop that provides the pennies to be pinched. The Hobson household consists of three unmarried daughters. The women are single because he refuses to provide them with the dowries needed to marry. After all, if he put up the money, he would lose eldest daughter Sharon Gless, who runs the shop while he spends his time at the local bar. And when Gless wants to marry one of his employees shy, illiterate Richard Thomas Warden steadfastly refuses to bless the match.

Sharon Gless Jack Warden Lillian Gish - Hobson's Choice
Sharon Gless Jack Warden Lillian Gish – Hobson’s Choice

Now, not only is Gless as headstrong and proud as her father, a free-thinker and a competent businesswoman, but she’s getting a little desperate. She’s 30 considered over the hill during that period and verging on spinsterdom. Gless rebels against this flamboyant autocrat, hatching a scheme that involves Thomas and Lillian Gish as one of the shop’s most satisfied customers. Thomas happens to be the best shoemaker not just in Warden’s employ, but in all of New Orleans. Gish happens to be both sympathetic to Gless’ plight and quite rich. With Gish’s underwriting and Thomas’ skills, Gless opens up a business of her own in direct competition with Warden. What ensues is a delightfully magnificent father – daughter squabble that has subtlely commented on social conventions and perceptions of the times by the time the dust settles.

Gannett News Service – Bill Hayden 1983

Hobson's Choice 1983 Advert
Hobson’s Choice 1983 Advert
San Bernardino Sun, Volume 110, Number 355, 21 December 1983
San Bernardino Sun, Volume 110, Number 355, 21 December 1983

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