Miss Gish Finds West Panicky at Talk of Air Raid (Chicago Tribune 1941)

Chicago Tribune – Tuesday, December 23, 1941 – Page 5

Miss Gish Finds West Panicky at Talk of Air Raid

Tells of Blackout System on California Coast.

Fear of raid attacks on the west coast has caused a rapid exodus to inland America, Lillian Gish, the actress, said here yesterday.

So strong is the movement that travelers find it difficult to get reservation on eastbound trains, Miss Gish said. She paused in Chicago on her way to spend Christmas in New York with her mother.

Reports Coast in Panic.

“The California coast is in panic,” she said. “They are expecting air raids hourly. Eddie Rickenbacker says that while raids are not impossible, they are improbable and impracticable, and I think he should know, but no one else thinks so.”

In general, she said people go about their business as usual, but all windows are blacked out with paint, a nightly blackout is observed, and no one ventures abroad after 6 p.m. This latter rule entails a 4:45 p.m. closing of shops and offices.

When she got of the Santa Fe Chief, Miss Gish, a slim, little figure dressed in plum from head to toe and wearing the new long skirt [8 inches from the floor] which she termed “dowdy,” found herself greeted by a tumultuous crowd.

Chicago Almost a Second Home.

“After all,” she said in laughing explanation, “Chicago is almost mu second home. I was here so long in ‘Life With Father’ that I feel I know everyone here.”

She recalled that the young, read-headed actor, O.Z. Whitehead, who played the role of Clarence Day Jr. in that play, enlisted in the army the day the United Stated declared war on Japan. “He’s 40 pounds under weight,” she said of young Zebby, as he was known here when he spoke for the America First committee, “but he’s at San Pedro now.”

Miss Gish said that her two weeks in California were spent visiting Mary Pickford at her estate, Pickfair, in Beverly Hills, and consulting with Paramount for the proposed filming of “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.” She is being considered for the title role.

Disagrees on Portrayal.

“But,” she said, “I can’t see Mrs. Wiggs played as an old woman, and they do. Maybe eventually they will decide the mother of a 12 year old son doesn’t have to be fat, old, and decrepit, but if they are looking for a Marie Dressler in me they are not looking up the right street.”

“I’d like to do something like Mrs. Wiggs, a story of goodness and kindness in America,” she added frankly.

“We’re fed up with hate. When people go to the movies now, they want surcease from it. But I haven’t been on the screen for 10 years. To go back as an old woman might hurt me professionally.”

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