Gish sisters are an important part of film history

SPOILER WARNING !!!, this material is related to the attack that targeted Miss Lillian Gish and her sister Dorothy, their reputation and memory.

The New Gish Theater BGSU Front

photo by Reghan Winkler

(BG Falcon Media) Wally Pretzer Mar 14, 2019

The Black Student Union at BGSU would like to see the Gish Film Theater name removed from the Student Union. These students should know that the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize has been awarded to several African Americans, including Spike Lee.

In 1915, D.W. Griffith produced “The Birth of a Nation”, a racist movie that put the Ku Klux Klan in a favorable light. Lillian Gish played a nurse from the North caring for wounded soldiers. Because of her appearance in the film, the Black Students Union has implied that she is a racist; her sister, Dorothy, who was not in the film, is, by association with her sister, also, apparently, considered a racist. “The Birth of a Nation” has never been shown in the Gish Film Theater. President Rodney Rogers, assisted by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Ray Craig, appointed a task force of students, faculty and other stakeholders to review the controversy to decide whether the name should be removed.


What is appalling is that there is this movement afoot to defame the stellar film achievements of Lillian and Dorothy Gish, born and raised in Ohio. There is no doubt in my mind that if these black students succeed in their defamation of the characters of Lillian and Dorothy Gish, they will have destroyed important film history. Ralph Haven Wolfe founded the Gish Film Theater in 105 Hanna Hall in 1976. Ms. Gish came to the BGSU campus at least four times to be honored.


If the Gish Film Theater name is removed, I think that it will indicate to the world that Bowling Green State University, as an institution dedicated to providing opportunities for differing views, has failed in that endeavor.

Back to Lillian Gish Home page

Back to Lillian Gish Home page

The Gish Theater Saga

The Gish Theater Saga

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Amon Carter Museum of American Art; Fort Worth TX; Camille 1932

Lillian Gish

The New York Times: Denver, Col., July 16—In an impressive ceremony, amid the merry laughter of “pioneer” belles and gay young men, and at a cost of $250,000, the famous Central City Opera House was brought to life tonight after a silence of fifty years.

Lillian Gish in Camille curtain call, Central City, Colorado 3
Laura Gilpin (1891-1979); ; Gelatin silver print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Ft Worth, Texas; Bequest of the Artist; P1979.128.

Men, women and children from the Atlantic Seaboard and the Pacific Coast came to this “phantom” village, once the miners’ capital. Daughters and sons, granddaughters and grandsons of pioneers who once made those same walls vibrate with their applause were there for the gala opening of the revival, in dress such as their ancestors wore at the theatre when it was new. Some of the gowns, handed down through the fifty years, were once heard to rustle down those same aisles.

Lillian Gish in Camille curtain call, Central City, Colorado 2
Laura Gilpin (1891-1979); [Camille, Curtain Call–Gish, Lillian] [Central City, Colorado]; Platinum print; 1933; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Ft Worth, Texas; Bequest of the Artist; P1979.140.177

Every person in the audience represented some famous character of the time when Central City was the centre of Colorado’s gold mining industry. “Camille” typified to perfection the taste of the ‘8 os in the theatre. Miss Lillian Gish, as Marguerite Gautier, takes the leading role, with Raymond Hackett playing opposite her as Armand. It was the first time “Camille” has played in the old opera house in fifty years.”

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Lillian Gish in Feathered cap by Nell Dorr cca 1930 Double Exposure

His Double Life (1933) Key Book Photos

His Double Life (1933) Key Book Photos – Lillian Gish and Roland Young

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NY-Allan Warren (1972)

Lillian Gish

New York – Allan Warren, photographed in 1972

Miss Lillian Gish in her New York apartment, photographed in 1972 by Allan Warren.

She was 80-years-old. She continued working, in ten more film and television roles, including an appearance on “The Love Boat.” Then she starred with Bette Davis in Lindsay’s “The Whales of August” (1987) at the age of ninety-four. That was her “Swan Song”. Two suns in the sunset, marking the end of an era.

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CP (CD) Corp 1940

Lillian Gish

CP Corp 1940 – Miss Lillian Gish

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AP Wire Press Photos

Lillian Gish

AP Wire Press Photos – Miss Lillian Gish Late – 70’s, 80’s

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)

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With Henri Langlois (1969)

L’actrice Lilian Gish invitee a presenter des extraits de ses films a la cinematheque francaise par son directeur Henri Langlois le 21 juin 1969 — Actress Lilian Gish invited to present extracts of her films in french film archive by his manager Henri Langlois on june 21, 1969 in Paris (for homage evening june 21, 1969) – Photo: Suddeutsche Zeitung

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1969 candid Lillian Gish (possibly Paris, France - Henri Langlois)
1969 candid Lillian Gish (possibly Paris, France – Henri Langlois)