Grandma Moses Life To Be Told Friday On TV (Chicago Tribune – 1952)

Chicago Tribune – March, Sunday 23 1952 – Page 67

Grandma Moses Life To Be Told Friday On TV

Lillian Gish will star in the title role of “Grandma Moses” when the biography of the American Artist is presented on Playhouse of Stars over WBKB at 8 p.m. Friday. The television play will highlight episodes in the life of the painter which reveal how she happened to undertake her work at the age of 80. In addition to Miss Gish, three other actresses will portray Grandma Moses – in scenes depicting her early years. Denise and Jane Alexander, sisters, will play the painter at the ages of 12 and 5 respectively and Georgianne Johnson will have the role of Grandma Moses at 26. Sidney Smith will portray Otto Kallir, art connoisseur who discovered the artist.

Adapted by David Shaw from Mrs. Moses’ recently-published autobiography, the play had Lillian Gish in the title role spinning tales to her grandchildren on her early life and how she won recognition with her colorful American primitives after she had passed 80. Story flashed back from camera shots of Grandma Moses paintings to the related incidents in her life, which was a clever technique. This was one spot, though, where color TV was urgently needed.

With Miss Gish etching a warmly human characterization of the nice old lady who was as eager to receive compliments for her strawberry preserves as for her life on a farm dating back to the days when Abraham Lincoln was President. Sisters Denise and Jane Alexander were competent as the artist at the ages of five and 12, respectively, and Georgianne Johnson turned in a sympathetic portrayal of Mrs. Moses at age 26. Russell Hardie was good as her husband, and Sidney Smith limned an okay role as the art connoisseur who discovered her artistic talents.

Joseph Scibetta reined both the actors and the cameras through their paces in fine style. Sets and other production mountings were standout. Durward Kirby again handled the Schlitz commercials, tying them cleverly with the sets of the play.

Illustration below: Lillian Gish with Grandma Moses painting, a gift from the artist to Miss Gish

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