- San Bernardino Sun, Volume 72, 27 September 1965
- Lillian Gish Before Camera in Disney Film
- By Vernon Scott
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. 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?” 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.
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.
“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. If you look closely, the reason is apparent. She emits a glowing inner beauty and love of life the years have left untarnished.