Notes on People; The Untiring Lillian Gish, 84 – By David Bird and Albin Krebs (The New York Times 1981)

Notes on People; The Untiring Lillian Gish, 84

By David Bird and Albin Krebs

July 8, 1981

The New York Times Archives

She made her stage debut in a melodrama called ”In Convict’s Stripes” in Rising Sun, Ohio. ”I was 5,” Lillian Gish said, ”and the only acting lesson I ever had was, ‘Speak loud and clear or else they’ll get another little girl!’ ”

Miss Gish soon moved into films, making her first movie 70 years ago.

”We had to do something to live in the summertime,” she recalled yesterday, ”because theaters closed down. No air conditioning.”

ap wire press photo lillian gish, manhattan ny apartment interview 1981

Although she is 84, Miss Gish is far from retired. She has been around the world three times in the last five years, acting and lecturing. She is home in New York now, but she will be off to London soon for a part in a new musical, ”The Biograph Girls.”

”Films are powerful,” Miss Gish said. ”They get to the minds and hearts of people quicker than the written word.” She said that in her recent travels abroad, she had seen much that seemed to be like America. ”They saw it in the films,” she said. ”Whatever the condition of the world, we in film have to take some responsibility for it.”

Is the world slipping? ”Oh, we have troubles,” Miss Gish said. ”But the human race is living longer and doing more. I don’t think any century has been as exciting as this one.”

with Kate Revill, who plays her in a new musical, The Biograph Girl, at the Phoenix Theatre in London, 19th November 1980
with Kate Revill, who plays her in a new musical, The Biograph Girl, at the Phoenix Theatre in London, 19th November 1980

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