Dorothy Gish Tires of Sunny California – By Kitty Kelly (Chicago Tribune – 1915)

Chicago Tribune – Saturday April 17, 1915 – Page 17

Flickerings from Flickers

  • By Kitty Kelly
  • Dorothy Gish Tires of Sunny California

Los Angeles, California, April 16 – When big sister’s away, then little sister chatters, is the modern version of the standard jingle, as adapted by Miss Dorothy Gish, which I plucked out of her picture, on the Majestic stage, when the sun retreated coyly behind a special gray cloud veil.

Miss Lillian Gish, with her mother, has gone back for a visit in Ohio, and Miss Dorothy is living all alone in their apartment endeavoring to learn to be self-reliant.

Lillian Gish, Dorothy and Mary Robinson McConnell (Mother)

“You see, mother has always taken so much care of me, even more than she has of Lillian because she was the oldest, that I have never had to do things on my own responsibility, so I think this is a very good experience for me – but I don’t like it specially.

“Oh, I’m so tired of this country. I want to go back to New York, but I suppose we’ll always stay out here. We’ve been here fourteen months now.”

Dorothy Gish

“Miss Gish, into the scene,” called Director Paul Powell, and Dorothy scurlled back to her counter in the store to be flirted at by the bold, bad drummer. But she came back, for the sun was fickle, though the weather carefully refrained from really raining. After some spasmodic efforts at conversation, continually interrupted by Mr. Powell’s parrot call, “Miss Gish into the scene,” Miss Gish took me off to her dressing room, though she assured me in advance that she hated to do it, for it looked “awful.” But I didn’t think so. It is one of the cheeriest, roomiest dressing rooms I have been in, and is, by the way, the best one at the Majestic studio. Dorothy and Lillian share it, and Dorothy has regular householding ideas about improving its appearance, decoratively speaking. In it are two couches, two windows, running water, hidden behind a bug burlap screen, a long dressing table under one window, a drapery hung wardrobe in one corner, a cupboard built into the wall, a pier glass, and some wicker chairs. That is about twice as much as in any dressing room I have seen – and I’ve seen dozen – and it is about twice as large as any.

Nell Dorr (1893-1988); Dorothy Gish; ca. 1930’s; Gelatin silver print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art; Fort Worth, Texas; Bequest of Nell Dorr; P1990.45.239

“I’m going to have all the woodwork painted white,” she explained. “See, I tried to do those window frames myself, but I got tired of it, for it was a lot harder work than I expected. Then I’m going to get some fresh hangings and have it all foxed when Lillian gets back and surprise her.”

I wish I had been a phonograph record so I could have gotten all of Dorothy down, for she said an amazing lot of things in the hour we visited, and she said them delightfully. She is a dear child, exactly like any schoolgirl, a bit more ripened in experience, perhaps, but perfectly fresh and unspoiled.

“We’ve been in pictures three years. We had just finished school and were thinking about stage engagements,” explained Dorothy. “Why, we never thought of pictures, but we knew Mary and she asked us to come over to the Biograph, where she was working, and we did, and Mr. Griffith saw us there and had us pose.

“It was the funniest thing. We didn’t understand Mr. Griffith’s name when he was introduced to us, and he was flying around so busy and important that we called him Mr. Biograph, because we knew it was the Biograph company and he acted as though he was the whole thing. And so, then, we’ve been working with him ever since.

dorothy gish – as photographed for – dorothy and lillian gish – by lillian gish

“I started on the stage when I was 4 years old. There was a friend we had whom we called aunt, and she had a chance to play in ‘East Lynne’ if she could get a child to play with her.

“Well, she asked mother for me, and of course at first mother thought, ‘O, it’s perfectly dreadful,’ you know how that is, and wouldn’t let me, but finally she did, and I went and played little Willie.

“ And how I hated to wear the boy clothes. I used to pick the hems cut of my dresses so they’d come down as far as possible, and once I was naughty and Aunt Laurie made me wear them home. Of course they didn’t show under my coat, but I was sick because I knew they were there.

“I don’t want to do boy parts now. Of course you have to do what you are told, but I’m too fat anyway. I weigh 115 pounds. But I’ve done everything. I played extra for a year and I was Indians and colored people and maids and everything.

“O, I used to think if only I could be 18, because Mr. Griffith would always try me out in parts and then he’d say ‘No, you’re too young.’ O, I wanted to run the world then and be like Sarah Bernhardt. Now I want to be 21, but I don’t know about running the world either.

Actress, Dorothy Gish, wearing a long-sleeved white dress with tiered skirt, standing in a bed of flowers, holding a small basket full of flowers, from the film The Streets of New York. (Photo by Edward Steichen)

“I like to work in pictures, O, ever so much. They seem to me so much more real than the stage. And then Lillian and I can be together, and we have been separated so much that, that is lovely. It was just about impossible to get stage engagements together.”

I managed to suggest that sometime they might be separated, when they went and fell in love and were married. Dorothy laughed with girlish skepticism: “O, there’s not much danger of that.”

Then she turned sober. “You see we have seen so many unhappy marriages all about and among stage people that we feel seriously about marriage. The trouble is that people go into it so unthinkingly. They only know each other for a little while and don’t have a chance to know what they are really like and what faults they have, and all that, and then they rush off and get married, and after that they find out soon enough how little they were acquainted. I think if people would be more thoughtful and get to know each other better there would be many less unhappy marriages.”

Someone stuck his head in to “how-do-you-do” then and we lost that thread of thought. But Dorothy was ready with a whole loomful of other ones.

“I don’t care much about dancing, but I just love to go to picture shows. I think Chaplin is the most fun. Of course he does lots of vulgar little things that I wish he wouldn’t, and I don’t think he does quite so much now, but he has real comedy in him. I think he is just rich. He and Mary – that sounds funny to put them together when they are so different – are really the best drawing cards in pictures.”

Miss Gish always means Mary Pickford, of course, when she says “Mary.” There was a deal more said, but space is a tangible quantity with barriers, and I hit them so often with damaging results that I shall try to avoid them.

Dorothy Gish – one feels exactly like calling her Dorothy – is a refreshing experience and I’d relayed her remarks through in short paragraphs.

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