Lillian Gish, left an estate worth $10 million, with most of it to endow an annual award in the performing arts.
By Nadine Brozan
The New York Times – March 6, 1993
Lillian Gish, who died last Saturday, left an estate worth $10 million, with most of it to endow an annual award in the performing arts, Reuters reported yesterday. Miss Gish was 99, and her career spanned virtually the entire history of movies, starting with silent films.
Her 19-page will, filed in Surrogates Court in Manhattan and dated Feb. 21, 1986, distributes about $1 million to 20 people, including relatives and friends, in bequests ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.
Helen Hayes was given opal jewelry, while Miss Gish left artworks by Grandma Moses to Miss Hayes’s sons, James and Charles MacArthur.
Miss Gish directed that the remaining funds be used to establish a prize named for herself and her sister Dorothy, the actress, who died in 1968. She specified that the prize go to an individual who makes “an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life” through the performing arts.
And so, at last, the plowman, turning the furrows of life, comes to the boundary that divides the known from the unknown—the wilderness from the sown field. Whatever we may one day find beyond, is already there in every detail—only, I lack the clairvoyant gift, and turn for a brief backward glimpse. It is no vision of artistic triumph that comes to me tonight . . . not the memory of Chekhov’s radiant heroine . . . not the triste picture of that broken flower of the Limehouse . . . something even more real than these: a real child, trouping with wandering players, away from a mother’s care … a slim-legged little girl, who slept on station benches and telegraph tables, who running across a foot-bridge lost her poor possessions in the swift black water, who from a train or hotel window stared silently into the night.
“What are you looking at, Lillian?”
“Nothing, Aunt Alice, just looking.”
(Albert Bigelow Paine – Life and Lillian Gish)