The Lyrical Lillian – 1942

Lillian Gish

  • Rob Wagner’s Script Magazine, 1942 •

        October 10, 1942, Article by Herb Sterne

Originally appearing in a 1942 issue of SCRIPT MAGAZINE was this decidedly “pro” Lilian Gish (1893 – 1993) article concerning the silent film actress and her meteoric rise under the direction of D.W. Griffith, and her much appreciated march on Broadway.

Lillian Gish by Laura Gilpin 1932 (As Camille) Sepia mid shot - Amon Carter Museum Forth Worth TX
Laura Gilpin (1891-1979); [Camille–Gish, Lillian] [Central City, Colorado]; 1932; Gelatin silver print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Ft Worth, Texas; Bequest of the Artist; P1979.140.157
Lilian Gish is the damozel of Arthurian legend, tendered in terms of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Her heroines perpetually hover in filtered half-lights, linger in attitudes of romantical despair. They forever drift farther from reality than the dream, and no matter how humble their actual origins, the actress invariably weaves them of the dusk-blues, the dawn-golds of medieval tapestries.”

Lillian Gish autographed - 1920s
Lillian Gish autographed – 1920s

The Lyrical Lillian - Rob Wagner's Script Magazine 1942 Herb Sterne


The Lyrical Lillian - Rob Wagner's Script Magazine 1942 Herb Sterne 2

Lillian Gish Conrad Nagel 1930 Swan 2

The Lyrical Lillian - Rob Wagner's Script Magazine 1942 Herb Sterne 3

Elaine The Lilly Maid Dreaming of Astolat ... Lillian Gish - Way Down East
Elaine The Lilly Maid Dreaming of Astolat … Lillian Gish – Way Down East

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Anya – 1965


Anya – 1965

“My first Broadway musical and I loved “Anya”. It is the story of a great legend of our century, the czar and his family and what happened to them.

We had Rachmaninoff’s music and it was so beautiful. We also had voices from Metropolitan Opera singing the music and we had Constance Towers who was a lovely “Anya”.

We played “Anya” previews in New York for three weeks (the production was too expensive to tour) and did sell-out business until we opened and the critics turned thumbs down on us. I don’t know why.”

(Dorothy and Lillian Gish – By Lillian Gish)

Lillian Gish - Anya
Lillian Gish – Anya

My career started in New York and I went back there after doing The Horse SoldiersThe Naked Kiss, and other films. I went there at the request of Edwin Lester, who was the director of the Civic Light Opera in Los Angeles. He thought I was right for the lead in the stage musical Anya, which was the play Anastasia set to the music of Rachmaninoff. I opened in it, but unfortunately there was a newspaper strike at the time and they were building the subway on Sixth Avenue near the Ziegfeld Theatre. So, we opened under a lot of problems at Christmas time. Frank Loesser, who was the producer of Anya, withdrew, so a golfing friend of George Abbott’s–the great Mr. Abbott, the director–took over as producer. So, the show lacked a certain amount of support, even though Hal Prince was sitting there during rehearsals, helping Mr. Abbott. We were open for just three weeks, but I was fortunate that Richard Rodgers saw Anya and took me under his wing and cast me in his production of Show Boat at Lincoln Center in New York that summer. I just had one of those great experiences playing Julie, which was the Helen Morgan role. I sang the song “Bill” and had standing ovations every night, which was a great thrill. I continued to work for Richard Rodgers. I probably did more of The Sound of Music around the country for Mr. Rodgers than I did The King and I. Anyway, when they were casting The King and I revival with Yul Brynner, Mr. Rodgers called and asked if I would play Mrs. Anna and, of course, I said yes.

(Constance Towers)

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Anya, Original Broadway Cast, Full Album Audio

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The Star Wagon (1937)

“After you leave the stage in the first scene as a sixty-five-year-old woman, you enter five minutes later as a eighteen-year-old girl”


Lillian, possibly backstage or in the wings

Changing the entire costume, removing the white wig and dressing my hair was easy. For the lightning change of the make-up I called on a Russian actress who told me how it had been done in “Chauve Souris”. (Miss Lillian Gish)

Starring: Miss Lillian Gish Burgess Meredith

Photographed by Vandammm (production)

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Lillian Gish by Eric Pape 1937 Charcoal on Paper (Starwagon)
Lillian Gish by Eric Pape 1937 Charcoal on Paper (Starwagon)

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