- Producer /Director: Guthrie McClintic
- Starring: Sir John Gielgud – Hamlet Miss Lillian Gish as Ophelia Dame Judith Anderson as Queen Gertrude John Emery Malcolm Kean Mary Lee Logan Evelyn Abbott
“The first time I stepped on a Shakespearean stage was to play Ophelia with the world’s finest Hamlet. It was also Judith Anderson’s first, as well as the first time Guthrie McClintic had staged Shakespeare. None of us knew how terrified the other was. I looked at “do” and wondered how to pronounce it. Judith told me later she didn’t know how to say “good”. Then Guthrie asked how we thought he felt directing the man who had staged and played it many times.
The Hamlet himself, John Gielgud acted as if he had never ever heard the name and took direction as a child. His behaviour during our six-month run won him the adoration of our crew and the entire company. When I complained to Arthur Hopkins that we were closing while playing to standing room after the longest run on any Hamlet, he said: My dear, don’t you know that Hamlet exhausts its Hamlet long before it does its audience.” (Miss Lillian Gish – “Dorothy and Lillian Gish”)
WHO’S WHO IN THE CAST (PLAYBILL 1936)
Behind The Scenes …
NOTES ON PEOPLE; Lillian Gish Recalls a Part
By ALBIN KREBS and ROBERT MCG. THOMAS JR.
The New York Times, FEB. 16, 1981
One reason she consented to be honorary chairman of the Friends of French Opera benefit performance of Ambroise Thomas’s ”Hamlet,” says Lillian Gish, is because she has ”a special affection for the role of Ophelia, Hamlet’s ill-fated lady.”
Miss Gish, who has been working for tomorrow’s Carnegie Hall benefit despite a persistent cold, recalled the other day that Ophelia was the first role she played opposite Sir John Gielgud, ”and I almost didn’t get it.”
The actress, who is 83 years old, was 40 when the director Guthrie McClintic suggested to Sir John that she play Ophelia to his Hamlet. ”Gielgud’s reply got back to me,” she said. ” ‘She’s lovely, but is she young enough?’ He was appearing on Broadway – it was 1936 – and undaunted I presented myself in his dressing room and asked him point-blank – ‘Well, am I young enough?’ ”
He apparently said yes, for Miss Gish recalled, ”We had a long run at the Empire Theater, with Judith Anderson as Queen Gertrude.”