Chicago Tribune – Sunday, February 25, 1940 Page 4
Lillian Gish Of Early Film Days
Noted Actress to Appear on W-G-N Today.
By Larry Wolters
“I never turn on the radio without thinking what a miracle it is – what a miraculous age we live in. Radio is so wonderful that I don’t think I shall ever be able to take it for granted.”
These are the words of Lillian Gish, whom every one remembers as one of the brightest stars of the silent movie era. Nowadays she is adding to her reputation with fine performances on the stage. Currently she is being acclaimed for her work in Clarence Day’s smash comedy hit, “Life With Father,” in which she is co-starred with Percy Waram, noted British actor, at the Blackstone theater.
Less known to the public is the fact that Miss Gish is extremely enthusiastic about the radio. She delights in radio work – but only if she can have plenty of rehearsal sessions. And she is a regular listener. In fact she carries a portable set around with her. She listens on this receiver on trains, in her dressing room. And it was in evidence the other afternoon in her suite at the Blackstone hotel.
Radio Growing Better
Radio programs are growing better all the time, Miss Gish believes. And she wants the play in which she and Mr. Waram are to present on the Fifth Row Center broadcast on W-G-N and the Mutual network from 5 to 5:30 p.m. today to measure up to radio’s best.
With that end in view Miss Gish on last Tuesday, the day after her play opened, issued a request for the script of the radio adaptation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s “The School for Scandal” in which she is to appear this afternoon. She wanted to go to work studying it at once. And she asked at least one additional rehearsal besides those which had already been scheduled by W-G-N’s dramatic staff.
Miss Gish is particularly interested in doing “The School for Scandal” because it was presented at McVicker’s theater with John Drew, Joseph Jefferson and Mrs. Fiske playing in it a half century ago – in the Victorian era – the same period in which the Day family of “Life With Father” flourished.
“Clarence Day probably saw the play when it ran at McVicker’s,” Miss Gish mused.
Cites Enthusiasm of Radio
Radio today reminds Miss Gish of the early days of pictures.
“Broadcasting is just beginning to find itself,” she explained. “Like the movies in their earlier days radio and radio people are filled with tremendous enthusiasm.”
Mish Gish said that she thought the standards of radio drama were not yet up to those of music on the air.
“We have the very best music – the finest symphonies and artists on the air regularly,” she said. “I think perhaps in the dramatic end of radio the same mistake is being made that pictures made in their early days – playing down to the audience. That isn’t done on musical programs.”
Radio is lifting the musical and dramatic taste of the nation, Miss Gish continued, and is improving the talk of millions.
Honey Colored Hair.
“The flawless speech heard so regularly on the radio,” she asserted, “is having an uplifting effect on pronunciation and inflection of speech everywhere.”
Now a bit of the personal side. Lillian Gish is still the fair, fresh, wisp of a girl of long ago. Her hair is honey colored. The fragile, frail air about her vanishes in a very few minutes in her presence. She is animated, ingratiating, and has much personal charm. And she has many enthusiasms.
For instance, she is very keen about the word of Ivan Maestrovic, the Jugo-Slav sculptor. She is especially fond of his Indians which she can look upon from her window – a few hundred feet up Michigan avenue at Congress street. She enjoys riding. Gets more kick than you can imagine out of a hair wash, with a special massage and then having it done.
Flowers in Profusion
She loves flowers. Her suite is always filled with them. There were at least a dozen varieties the other day – American beauty roses; sweetheart roses, freesias – yellow, white and pink, several varieties of stock, narcissus, mimosa, hyacinths, primroses among them.
But most of all she enjoys travel.
“I saw all of America doing 10-20-30 cent houses from the time I was 5 until I was 12,” she explained. “So I haven’t been seeing so much in recent years of our own country.”
Most interesting region she has ever visited, she said, was a stretch of the Balkans – down thru Yugo-Slavia, Bulgaria, northern Greece and Macedonia. With her sister Dorothy, who is spending some time with her in Chicago, they made this trip a few years ago in a car.
Sister Shows Way.
“We were told it couldn’t be done. There were no roads, few bridges,” Miss Gish said. “So we went ahead and did it. Sometimes we walked across bridges on foot. And then let the car come along afterward. We weren’t always sure the car would get across.”
Dorothy Gish showed her sister the way to W-G-N studios. Dorothy knows it well because she played in the serial “The Couple Next Door” on W-G-N-Mutual several years ago.
Harold Stokes and the W-G-N Dance orchestra will provide the musical setting for Miss Gish and Mr. Waram’s appearance today. They will be supported by a cast of W-G-N actors.
*** Admin note: in order to keep article originality and the atmosphere of the 40s, no corrections were made to the text, even if some words are spelled different in “modern” writing.