San Bernardino Sun, Volume 109, Number 353, 19 December 1982
TV Week, December 19, 1982
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of The Performing Arts
George Abbott, Lillian Gish, Gene Kelly (top, l-r), Eugene Ormandy and Benny Goodman (bottom, l.c), are five distinguished American artists who have been chosen by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. D C , as recipients of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors, the nation’s highest distinction for performing artists. Walter Cronkite (bottom, r), will host The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, the fifth annual entertainment gala honoring the lifetime achievement of performing artists, airing on CBS, Saturday at 8PM An array of top stars from various realms of the performing arts, many of them colleagues of the recipients, will entertain at the invitational black-tie event, a benefit for the Kennedy Center. The honorees, whose artistic excellence is world renowned, have been chosen by the Kennedy Center trustees as “individuals who throughout their lifetimes have contributed greatly to American culture through the performing arts ” Roger L Stevens, chairman of the Kennedy Center, notes that the awards, now in their fifth year, were intended to demonstrate that “this nation does recognize the intrinsic value of the arts” and they “have now become a national tradition.”
San Bernardino Sun, Volume 110, Number 352, 18 December 1983
She Brought Her Own Shoes
Lillian Gish has a problem. “A lot of people I know send me scripts,” she said “It’s difficult to say no to a friend. It’s hard to say I’m not suited for it, or it doesn’t appeal to me.” So it was with some trepidation that the legendary film star opened the script to Hobson’s Choice, which had been sent to her by her good friend, Gilbert Cates. He had produced Never Sang for My Father, in which Miss Gish starred on Broadway in 1968. Now he was directing Hobson’s Choice. But as she read the script, her fears vanished. “It’s the best script I’ve seen in two years,” she enthused. “That includes plays, feature films, anything. I get scripts by dozens. I wouldn’t be caught dead in any of them. They’re awful. But this was a story with a beginning, a middle and end, I like it.” In fact, she liked it enough to say yes to her friend Gil Cates.
Now Lillian Gish can be seen in one of her rare television roles, in Hobson’s Choice, new motion picture-for-television, airing on The CBS Wednesday Night Movies at 9PM. When she traveled to New Orleans for her special guest star role as a wealthy; satisfied patron of a local shoe store, Miss Gish brought along part of her costume: a pair of black suede shoes. “The shoes are very important to my character,” she explained. “They need to be right. I took along a pair of shoes I’d bought in Florence, Italy, in the early 1920s. I’ve never seen a shoe like it in this country. Here we are, sixty years later, and I still wear these shoes regularly.” According to director Gilbert Cates, it’s typical that this venerable actress would pay special attention to the one part of her wardrobe that is central to her character. “The really remarkable thing about Lillian Gish,” the director said, “is her ability to go straight to the intent of any scene. Some actors can deliver a scene letter perfect and not know what it’s about. With Lillian Gish, it’s not even important whether the words are perfect or not. Everything she says has the right color, the right flavor, the right intent.” “But you see,” the actress explained, “that’s because of my years in silent films with D. W. Griffith. He would only give us the plot. Then it was up to us to find the character. As we would rehearse the story, we’d improvise our dialogue. The cutter would take down what we said, and our words often became the subtitles, since they were borne out in the action.”
Organized Labor, Volume 37, Number 2, 11 January 1936
Lillian Gish Broadcasts on Peace
Lillian Gish, the charming and talented heroine of dozens of outstanding plays and movies has an unusual interest in the relation of her profession to peace. In a recent broadcast in which she spoke on the subject, “How Motion Pictures May Promote Peace,” Miss Gish emphasized how great a contribution the motion pictures can make toward understanding and friendship among nations. Miss Gish said: “Having grown up in motion pictures and believing in them to the extent almost of a new religion, I hope you will forgive the lack of humor in my earnest belief in their possibilities. Of all the arts, if it may be classified as one, the motion picture has in it perhaps more than any other the resources of universality. It is to help the people of the earth to know and understand each other that the universal engine that is the cinema can be made to serve this great cause.”
Chicago Tribune – Saturday October 4, 1969 – Page 16
Drama Leaguers and ‘Old Friends’
By Irene Powers
At just about our lunch time today, the Chicago Drama league’s travelers, airborne from Copenhagen, will be circling in over the night lights of Moscow on the third lap of their global Theater Holiday junket. Before them are six and one-half days of opera, ballet and play-going [a circus and a puppet show included], interspersed with sightseeing in Moscow and Leningrad.
The stay-at-homes haven’t lost out in large numbers and keyed up with enthusiasm Friday to welcome a professional resident company at last
Women on the Go
The Goodman Theater Group – and Miss Lillian Gish to the first season’s parties for players.
For Miss Gish and the Drama league it was a reunion of old friends. She has been at the Goodman this week in her one-woman show, “Lillian Gish and the Movies” [last performance tonight].
Miss Eugenia Leontovich, just back from London with news to tell of a triumph for the Tolstoy play she adapted and directed, was another of the long-time friends of the league introduced at the party.
Mrs. Fred J. O’Connor, presiding, pledged the new Goodman company the support of the league members.
“We have waited a long time for this,” she said, “and our hearts are full of joy and anticipation.” Norman Ross, the master of ceremonies, praised the “understatement” with which the new venture had been undertaken.
By the time the Drama league’s theater tour returns home Oct. 18, the party of 68 will have seen Abby Theater festival productions in Dublin, ballet in Copenhagen, attended opera and plays in Stockholm, made a round of the theaters in London.
Various notables of the stage acted as ushers, water boys, coat room girls, and what not at a benefit for destitute Russian artists given in New York recently by the Chauve-Souris players from the famous Bat theater in Moscow. The “house attendants” in the picture are from left to right: Nikita Balieff, founder of the Bat theater; Sam Bernard, Leon Errol, Marilyn Miller, Walter Catlett, Laurette Taylor, Al Jolson, Doris Keane, Lenore Ulric, Dorothy Gish and Lillian Gish, and Morris Gest, who brought the Chauve-Souris players to America. In the rectangle below: Ed Wynn.
Photograph from White Studio
Benefit for destitute Russian artists given in New York Photo from “Dorothy and Lillian Gish” by Lillian Gish. To be noted Gish sisters costumes; Lillian and Dorothy Gish are wearing the famous gowns from “Orphans of the Storm.”
Miss Lillian Gish appears through courtesy of Oscar Serlin. Mr. Elliott Nugent appears through courtesy of Herman Shumlin. Miss Roberts, Miss Parks, Miss Martin, Miss Ryan, Miss Brilhante and Mr. Guilbert, Mr Johnson, Mr. Albertson, Mr. Arkm. Mr. Boyle appear through courtesy of the Hollywood Theatre Alliance and the management of the Grand Opera House. Willie Shore appears through courtesy of the Hi-Hat Club.
To the Chairmen and members of all committees, who have willingly devoted their time and labor to insure the success of our “AFRA ANTICS” of 1940.
To all AFRA members who have been generous enough to make personal appearances in an aid to publicity and whose names could not be added to those on this page due to a dead-line with the printer—In the name of AFRA—THANK YOU! If any names have been omitted, please credit it to human frailty and bear in mind that “To err is human, to forgive divine.”
The first time Lillian Gish ever heard the words “film library” was when an English lady named Iris Barry asked her to use her influence to get D.W. Griffith to give her some of his films. At Lillian Gish’s suggestion, D.W. Griffith complied, and so began the film library at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In a similar fashion, Ms. Gish convinced Mary Pickford of the importance of preserving her Biograph films, which Ms. Pickford subsequently donated to the Library of Congress collection.
It is our good fortune that these events transpired. Had they not, the collection of Biograph films which record such a vital segment of Lillian Gish’s career might have been gone the way of films made by such early studios as Lubin, Essanay, Vitagraph, Selig, and Thanhauser — and be lost forever.
As it is, a near-miraculous number of Lillian Gish’s silent films have been saved for future generations, — but not all of them. Gone forever are REMODELING HER HUSBAND, which Gish directed in 1920; ANNIE LAURIE, (1927); THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES (1914); and THE ANGEL OF CONTENTION (1914). For many years ROMOLA, a 1924 film in which Ms. Gish starred with William Powell, was effectively “lost,” until an 8 mm copy, made for home use, was discovered and transferred to 16 mm film.
By evening, a certain controlled hysteria was growing in the press corps, as the Friday visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales drew closer. Every reporter in Cannes hoped to be included on the guest list, which was being selected by some sort of secret process involving the British delegation and the festival press office.
Charles and Diana were scheduled to arrive on Friday morning, accept the keys to the city at noon, take a guided tour of the marketplace displays (easily the tackiest and most depressing sight Cannes had to offer), and then be present in the evening at a dinner in honor of Sir Alec Guinness. I ran into Peter Noble, who repeated his claim that some of the London dailies were offering £1,000 for press credentials to the dinner. He also speculated that the royal couple had timed their arrival to come the day after the screening of the most prestigious British entry in this year’s festival, Prick Up Your Ears, the story of the murder of playwright Joe Orton by his homosexual lover.
“It’s not the sort of thing they want the royals connected with,” Noble explained.
“What will they be seeing?”
“ The Whales of August. Lillian Gish and Bette Davis. Most eminently respectable. The dodgiest part of their whole visit will be when they go down into the Palais basement to visit the marketplace. I imagine they have an advance team mapping out a route to get them from Canada to Australia to New Zealand without passing any porno displays. ”
The movie was by Lindsay Anderson, the British director, whose elderly cast included Lillian Gish, Bette Davis, Vincent Price, and Ann Southern. It takes place near the end of the season in the Maine cottage where Gish and Davis, sisters, have summered for years. Now they are facing a momentous question: Can Gish still find the strength to care for her blind sister? Price plays an indigent European count who explains, “I have spent my life as the guest of friends.” His latest friend has died, and now he is looking for a new home. Southern has her eye on him.
The movie is sort of an On Golden Pond about really old people (Gish is ninety-two). The actors and their characters are so old they they have passed beyond age and into a sort of status somewhere between survivors and saints. Anderson’s camera lovingly explores their faces, which are wrinkled and old but luminous. Davis, finally stripped of the mask of makeup she has adopted in her old age, looked especially beautiful.
Lillian Gish was in splendid form later in the afternoon, at her press conference in the Palais. She was A wearing a print dress and a floppy straw hat, and when the audience stood up and cheered her entrance, she looked as if she thought she deserved every moment of the ovation, which of course she did. This was the woman who starred in The Birth of a Nation, and whose presence at Cannes represented the whole life span of the feature film as an art form. Never married, rumored to still be carrying a torch for D.W. Griffith after all these years, Gish revealed some surprising memories, like the time Louis B. Mayer offered to boost her career by involving her in a scandal.
“Lillian,” she said Mayer told her one day in 1929, “you’re way up there on a pedestal and nobody cares. Let me knock you off. I know I can help your career—let me arrange a scandal for you. ”
Miss Gish paused for dramatic effect. “Well,” she remembered replying, “I’ve never had a scandal, Mr. Mayer. I ve never done anything that wasn’t public knowledge. The rest of the time, I spend with my mother and my sister Dorothy. ”
But Mayer was insistent, Gish said, and so she finally answered, “Give me three days. ” At the end of the three days she told Mayer she did not want to have her career helped by a scandal, and Mayer said, “I can ruin you! ” So, she said, she packed up and returned to Broadway—where she appeared on the stage for six years. Miss Gish nevertheless found time to make about 106 movies in a career that began with Griffith at the dawn of the feature film, and still continues, even though she lamented the fact that actresses seem to age faster than actors in Hollywood.
“When I was very young, I played the child of Lionel Barrymore. Some years later, I played the woman he loved. A few years after that, I played his wife. And I promise you, if Lionel Barrymore had lived long enough—I would have ‘ played his mother. ”
Nobody asked her what sort of scandal L.B. Mayer had in mind.
The press conference for Gish was an example of what has become an art form at Cannes, the ritualized confrontations between the stars, the directors, and the press. Most ofthe press conferences take place in the Salon du Presse, inside the Palais, but the biggest stars, like Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, or James Stewart, are moved upstairs to the Ambassadeurs nightclub to accommodate the overflow.
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