Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · 10 January 1941, Friday · Page 17
Probably the last Christmas tree in Chicago to be taken down is that of Miss Lillian Gish, in her apartment at the Blackstone hotel. The tree, hung with ornaments and webbed in silver mist, the holly wreaths, the Christmas angels on the mantelpiece, and the Christmas candles go down today with the departure of Mrs. Gish for New York after a holiday visit with her daughter here in her long run of Life With Father.
Mrs. Gish, who with her dazzling white hair and deep blue eyes is reminiscent of a Dresden figurine, is an invalid as a result of shell shock in the world war, when she accompanied her daughters, Lillian and Dorothy, to the war area, where they made propaganda pictures under the direction of David Wark Griffith. She lost 35 pounds during the stay in the war zone, and has been invalided ever since.
Lillian and Mrs. Gish sailed for England on the first boat to cross the Atlantic after America had declared war, the St. Louis. Dorothy Gish sailed later on the Baltic, the same boat that carried Gen. Pershing and his staff overseas, and took 13 days to do it.
“Think of any one having the courage to face the movie camera,” the commander of the A.E.F. said to Miss Gish.
The Gishes were in London during two months of heavy bombardment. In September they sailed for France on a troop transport that started out twice and returned because of floating mines. Griffith had gone ahead to get into production, and when the two Gish girls arrived with their mother they went into the war area and made pictures in trenches and beyond the barbed wire. During their stay in Paris they lived with a French family in a bomb shelter, and learned to tell by the sound of the motors overhead what kind of plane and which country’s it was. The pictures made were Hearts of the World, The Greatest Thing in Life, and The Great Love. Remember?
A TRIO that means much to Triangle—Lillian and Dorothy Gish and their mother! Not only does this one-family constellation of stars mean much to Triangle, but it contributes much toward the perpetuity of the happiness of thousands of photoplay fans throughout filmdom. At the beautiful Ruth St. Denis home in Los Angeles this interesting little family lives the lives of cultured gentlewomen, devoting themselves to their profession and bringing to it the highest artistic endeavor. The result is that the Gish girls, though young in years, have long since become established as prime favorites. Lillian Gish is more of a student and a dreamer, being given to secluding herself while she thinks out her part and costumes it according to her own lines. She is of a delicate, almost ethereal style of beauty.
Dorothy Gish, the younger, is an outdoors girl, full of life and high spirits, she going in for all outdoor sports in which she excels. Both girls are devoted to their mother, and are her constant companions. To Mrs. Gish is due the credit of the successful artistic careers of her daughters, as she has personally instructed them since they were tiny girls.
It is good to know that that old superstition about only one really brilliant member of a family appearing in the same generation, is not true. Lillian and Dorothy Gish disprove it. Ever since they began work for the Triangle programme, they have been stars of equal magnitude. One of the most interesting facts about these two sisters, who have won so many admirers throughout the nation, is that off the screen they are precisely like any other sweet American girls untouched by fame. That, however, is where their resemblance to each other ceases. Temperamentally they are as unlike as any two respectable persons could be.
Lillian is a girl of the old-fashioned kind. She loves sewing and cooking, and can undertake general housekeeping if necessary, which, of course, it never will be. Dorothy is a woman of the future. Joyously impractical, her imagination is just one riot of poetic fancy. Dorothy is at once the delight and distraction of her sweet-faced mother and sister. All three are great chums ; and their evenings together, after work at the studio has been completed for the day, are sacred to them. One would no sooner think of breaking into that charmed circle than—than in walking on the grass when the sign says not to. Dorothy began her dramatic career at the age of four—she is not yet out of her teens—playing little Willie in “East Lynne.” She often has regretted in late seasons that she made so many persons cry through her portrayal of that famous role. After “East Lynne,” she appeared chiefly in melodrama, but presently she entered a school in Virginia, remaining there five years. Then she was engaged by D. W. Griffith, who took her with him through several motion picture companies to the Triangle programme. She has been seen there in “Old Heidelberg,” “Jordan is a Hard Road,” “Betty of Graystone,” “Little Meena’s Romance” and “Susan Rocks the Boat.”
Lillian Gish, the elder sister, made her debut when only six years old, in a melodrama called “The Little Red Schoolhouse.” She then became a pupil in a Springfield dancing school, and her next engagement was as one of the fairy dancers with Sarah Bernhardt, who then was making one of her American tours. After two seasons with Mme, Bernhardt, Lillian went to New York to finish her dancing lessons. There she renewed her old acquaintance with Mary Pickford and went with her to visit a picture studio. There she was seen by D. W. Griffith, who was attracted by her natural poise and expression, and he placed her under contract at once. Since joining Triangle, she has appeared in “The Lily and the Rose,” “Daphne and the Pirate,” “Sold Marriage” and “An Innocent Magdalene.” This Miss Gish has two hobbies — collecting rare old books, mainly on ancient history, and playing golf. She is a keen student of literature, and she can discuss manner master. She always arranges her affairs each week so systematically as to permit of a certain number of hours to be devoted exclusively to reading. Needless to add, there are thousands of fine volumes in her library, and she prizes every one of them to the highest degree. She plays the piano delightfully and displays enough aptitude to make one wonder why she has never thought of achieving fame as a pianist. However, her sole idea in playing the piano is to add credibly to the entertainment in her own family circle.
Meanwhile Dorothy Gish has hobbies too. She loves motoring and drives her own car dexterously, and ’tis said often precariously in her zeal to have excitement. She is likewise an expert horsewoman, and she is ruled by an extreme kindness towards all dumb animals. When it comes to aquatic sports, she is immensely capable and she can stand a good endurance test in swimming at any time.
“We love our mother and our art, and we never worry,” Dorothy says. “I am sure as long as anyone remains in this sort of attitude happiness will be a permanent consort.”
“And I think the motion picture has been the cause of our greatest joz in life just as it has served the same purpose with thousands of other people,” Lillian supplements.
“My girls believe in rather a close corporation so far as family life is concerned, but they do derive unlimited pleasure from the realization that they are helping to lighten the burdens of humanity by their artistry on the screen,” Mrs, Gish chimes in pleasantly.
Needless to add, there are thousands of ardent photoplay fans who swear by the Gish sisters, and they will all no doubt be glad to learn that mother counts for so much. Indeed, mankind always likes to have mother exert her potential and beneficial influence over the affairs of mankind. It is all in accordance with our most exalted ideals.
Finally, the future of the Gish sisters is replete with possibilities of greater accomplishments than their noteworthy past has brought and throughout their careers—while you are watching their delightful performances on the screen—just always remember that everything they do, both professionally and in private life, is more under the direction of their mother than under any picture director.
“To mother we owe everything, and her instruction is the supreme court with us,” Dorothy explains.
“And if either of us do good work in portraying characters, please give the full credit to mother,” Lillian adds.
All hail the successful firm of Gish Sisters & Company!
And, remember, photoplay fans, while you are watching these girls perform on a screen, you are seeing the results of a mother’s set ambition.
Chicago Tribune – Tuesday, August 23, 1927 – Page 3
Lillian Gish, taking her mother to hospital
Lillian Gish, movie star, was in Chicago for an hour an forty minutes yesterday while she changed from the Chief limited from Los Angeles to the 20th Century for New York. She was taking her mother, Mrs. Mary Gish, to a New York hospital. Mrs. Gish is suffering from a blood clot on her brain which has made her speechless and her right side is paralyzed.
Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993) was an American singer of classical music and spirituals. Music critic Alan Blyth said: “Her voice was a rich, vibrant contralto. Anderson became an important figure in the struggle for black artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States. On 9 April 1939, Marian Anderson stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. A crowd of 75,000 listened to her, and millions more tuned in on the radio. She sang where she did because she had been refused the use Constitution Hall by its owners. Marian was black, and the owners had a white-artists-only clause.
Lillian Gish, of “Life With Father,” resigned from the D.A.R.. along with her mother and sister, when Marian Anderson, the great Negro contralto, was not permitted to appear in Constitution Hall, the D.A.R. auditorium in Washington, D.C. Miss Gish explains her resignation with a beautifully classic turn: “I don’t quite know what we were doing in the organization in the first place.”
This was the real Lillian Gish. An artist who starred in Birth of A Nation (as Elsie Stoneman – a nurse) when she was 22 years old. An actress who supported her mother and sister when their father left them, in a time when film was considered cheap amusement meant for entertaining a county fair crowd. Theatre actors were ashamed then to act in “flicker shows.”
This was the real Lillian Gish. An artist who fought against war (any war), to spare American lives and to protect American families from destruction.
And THIS IS THE NAME – so called “Task Force” decided to remove from the Film Theater at Bowling Green University Ohio (BGSU). I sincerely wish that their “management” will read this article written by an European based 10.000 miles away from United States.
Kindly access the link below to read the whole Gish Film Theater saga. In the left column there is the whole story composed from selected articles written by David Dupont, and in the right column there are all the declarations, letters and desperate appeals made then by the brave few who tried to defend Lillian Gish’s memory. I wish to emphasize that all these declarations and letters to BGSU management were written long before James Earl Jones, Helen Mirren, Martin Scorsese, Malcolm McDowell and Lauren Hutton’s protest against dishonoring Lillian Gish’s name.
Picture Play – November 1927 – Volume XXVII, Number 3
Picture Play – January 1928 – Volume XXVII, Number 5
Uncensored and informal impressions of the stars
By Alma Talley
Lillian Gish has tried hard to hide in New York and would have succeeded but for her love of the theater and her frequent attendance, with George Jean Nathan, at the openings of the new plays. Lillian being a most mysterious person, no one knows whether her rumored engagement to the critic is true or not; it may be surmised, however, that her devotion to her invalid mother prevents any thought of marriage in the near future.
The theater is almost her only recreation, as nearly all her time is passed at her mother’s bedside. Her New York apartment, with a trained nurse in constant attendance on Mrs. Gish, has been rather like a hospital, and of course Lillian receives no one there.
As for that report that she is to join United Artists, “Really?” asked Lillian. “Tell me all about it.” She declared that she had been working hard—exhaustingly hard — for several years, and now all she wanted was a good rest ; she was making no plans at all for the future. Miss Gish made a rather interesting criticism of current film productions. They are becoming “arty,” she declared, and directors are obsessed with the subject of camera angles. Having found something new to play with, American producers are almost forgetting, in their enthusiasm for striking photographic effects, that they have a story to tell in a photoplay. The result is a picture that is consciously artistic. The eventual result will, of course, be a higher quality of films than we used to have, with artistic effects woven more closely into the story, but without being so obstrusive. Critics, always somewhat “snooty” about the talents of a film star, are only too eager to pounce upon the efforts of a little movie actress trying to make good on the stage.
Dorothy is also attending a stage training school this winter—and you’d never guess why. It’s to satisfy a yearning that she has kept buried for years—to be able to do a clog dance.
Revives Old Legal War.
Lillian Gish has been sued recently for the insignificant sum of five million dollars, which is the amount asked in the way of damages by the former producer of her pictures, Charles H. Duell. This case has been up before, and at that time Duell lost out in his contention. The matter is terribly complicated, so we won’t attempt to tell about it here, except to mention that Mr. Duell asserted that Miss Gish and he were at one time engaged. About the time the news of this suit came out, Lillian was kept quite busy denying her engagement to George Jean Nathan, the knight-errant among the critics.
** You wish to read more about Duell – Saga? Kindly access the link below.
Lillian Gish, is as sweet as they come. She spends all her leisure time at the bedside of her invalid mother. Lillian is thirty-one, weighs one hundred and twelve pounds, and is five feet four inches. Her new picture is “The Wind.”
A Film that Will Be Talked About.
We saw the Lillian Gish film, “The Wind,” not long ago, and consider it one of the best of recent productions. It isn’t the popular sort of picture, perhaps, but it has unusual merit. It is the story of a girl’s bitter experiences in a storm-swept Texas prairie amid primitive conditions to which she is totally unaccustomed. The way in which Victor Seastrom, the director, has conveyed the effect of tempests beating upon the young girl’s mind may perhaps be just a trifle theatrical, but it is amazingly effective just the same. We expect that this production will be much talked about.
The Wind Proposal (Lillian Gish, William Orlamond and Lars Hanson)
Lars Hanson, Lillian Gish Edward Earle and William Orlamond
It would be a surprise, wouldn’t it, if you asked for “Diana Ward” at a hotel desk and had Lillian Gish, in person, answer the summons? In one of those shy, retiring moods characteristic of her, Miss Gish came to New York incognito—under the above name—for a change of atmosphere just before she essayed the role of Pauli in the film version of Channing Pollock’s stirring stage play, “The Enemy.”
circa 1924: Lillian Diana Gish, originally Lillian de Guiche (1893 – 1993). She played a lot of waif type heroines during her silent film career but never quite made the successful transition to talking pictures.
Lillian Gish , The Enemy, 1927
Lillian Gish starring in “The Enemy” Promotional
Lillian Gish and Ralph Forbes in “The Enemy” (MGM, 1927)
A demure little figure in her black furs and conservative toque, she might have passed for any of a dozen inconspicuous Miss Wards had it not been for her large solemn eyes and delicately modeled hands. Miss Gish, the mature young woman of to-day, is a well-poised, well-balanced being, with a becoming dignity and reserve found only in combination with intelligence, sureness and a sense of the fitness of things.
In contrast with the earthy Jack Gilbert, Miss Gish tells you that her one aim in molding a characterization is But let her tell it in her own words.
Lillian Gish in Scarlet Letter – Vanity Fair Magazine August 1926
Lillian Gish in Scarlet Letter
Lillian Gish in Scarlet Letter
Lillian Gish in Scarlet Letter
Hester Prynne – Lillian Gish in the Scarlet Letter
Lillian Gish in Scarlet Letter
“When I am looking for material for myself, there is one desire uppermost. I want a story that has in it at least one or two moments of great beauty. I wanted ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ for example, because of that beautiful love scene played over the heads of the people.” The Reverend Dimmesdale, if you remember, and Hester Prynne, so exquisitely portrayed by Miss Gish, pour out their souls to each other on the scaffolding in the square before crowds of derisive Puritans.
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
The White Sister
“And ‘The White Sister’ appealed to me because of the spiritual beauty of the ceremonial when the young nun takes her vow. And in ‘La Boheme’ I hoped we would capture for a little the elusive beauty to be found in the Puccini opera.”
Lillian Gish Close Up – Mimi in La Boheme
Lillian Gish as Mimi in La Boheme
Jeanne d’Arc is a character whom Miss Gish hopes some day to portray, when the time, the gods, and the powers that be are propitious. “But my Jeanne must be perfect,” she said. “I have read hundreds of books about her. I know her from the conceptions of dozens of different authors and commentators. To me she is a most delicate girl with amazing faith and perception. You know, she pleaded her own breach-of-promise suit, and that takes brains and stamina. And much as I love and admire Jeanne, I shall never play her until the picture can be made in France and a year can be spent in its preparation. Jeanne’s whole life was beautiful in its faith, and we must present it perfectly or leave it undone.”
Miss Gish feels that the outdoor sports of the day are bound to produce an unfavorable result for films. “For,” she. said, “how can the movies compete with the great out-of-doors, once people learn to appreciate and love the open air? It is all an evidence of the vitality of America that, throughout the country, every one is determined these days to get into knickerbockers and tweeds and romp about playing games. I am afraid the movie theaters will suffer terribly by comparison.” A few days, stolen from her mother’s bedside, were all Miss Gish could spare to spend in the great seething metropolis of the East. But Mrs. Gish, she reported, was recovering slowly from the stroke which had laid her low, and the Gish girls, who are devoted to their mother, feel they have every reason to rejoice. “Dorothy calls England ‘home’ now,” said Lillian, “but we intend to win her back.”
THEY’VE been pals “forever and ever,” according to Dorothy Gish—she and Lillian and Mary Pickford and Mildred Harris Chaplin. And the day before Lillian left Los Angeles for the East there was a tea party on the Gish lawn, a sort of love feast.
Years ago, when they were all just little girls, Lillian Gish had to give up a part with a road company because her mother could not go along. That part fell to Mary Pickford, whose mother could go. And before the company started off, Lillian and Dorothy and Mary had become friends. They kept in close touch with each other from that time on.
After awhile Mary Pickford joined the Griffith forces in pictures at the old Biograph Studio in New York. One day Lillian and Dorothy returned from a trip. “Oh, girls !” said Mary, “I am working in pictures. You have never seen moving pictures made, so come on over to the studio with me, and watch them work.” Off they went!
“Hello, Mary,” said D. W. G. “Who’s this with you?”
“Oh, they’re just Lillian and Dorothy—they never saw pictures made, so I brought them along !”
“Well—do they want to work in pictures ?”
“Sure they do !”
“All right—tell them to begin next week !”
And they started in at the fabulous sum of ten dollars a week!
“Do you remember, Lillian,” said Mary over the teacups, “those little twins next door, who used to slip up and poke you with their fingers, to see if you were alive? They always thought you were a doll!”
“Yes—and do you remember when Mildred first came to the studio here how little she seemed, and how we used to take care of her, Dorothy?”
“Oh, yes, Lillian”—it was Mildred Harris talking—”you know I always did just worship you! I used totag around after you and watch every thing you did!”
“Well, we had great times saving our pennies for birthday gifts !” Dorothy exclaimed. “Do you remember when we were little things, Mary—once your mother said Lillian was just too lovely to live ! She said she was afraid an angel would come and take her up to Heaven ”
“Oh, my!” laughed Mary Pickford, “and then they noticed that whenever Lillian and I were left alone I always got away from her as fast as I could ! I was afraid the angel would come for her when I was there, and take me, too!”
“Mildred has an anniversary next week! Why, what a shame I’ll be gone,” sighed Lillian. “But I’ll be thinking about you, anyway. Aren’t we the lucky girls, all of us—all four of us. It seems most too good to be true—after all the years and years we worked together !”
“That’s all right, don’t forget that you worked and you didn’t get more than you deserved—you and Mary, anyway,” Dorothy laughed, and caught Mildred gaily by the hand. “Come on, let’s see if there isn’t some chocolate ice cream !”
Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish and Mary Pickford
Mildred Harris, Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Mary Robinson McConnell (Gish) and Dorothy Gish
Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish
Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford
Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford
Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford
Mary Pickford, Mildred Harris Chaplin, Mary, Dorothy, and Lillian Gish
Seated beside Lillian and Dorothy Gish, their guest for the evening, the writer witnessed the first public performance of the new Griffith masterpiece. This is an account of her impressions of that event.
By Marguerite Sheridan
GRIFFITH Night in Los Angeles! For months to come, “Hearts of the World,” the latest and mightiest work of this wizard of the cinematographic art, will continue to shine forth in all its wonder, its pathos, and its infinite charm, through the lenses of hundreds of projection machines in every city in the country, but in no place will it be the all – important event that was the premier showing in “The City of the “Angels.” Just as the master producer gave them “The Birth of a Nation” and “Intolerance” before even staid New York and the slightly less critical Chicago were allowed a peep, so was the first glimpse of this—”the sweetest love story ever told”—staged among the ruins of war torn France, accorded to his California friends. Before I tell you of this night of nights, let us go back a few days and journey out to the studio, where we will watch Griffith at work putting the finishing touches to “The Picture,” as it was called in an most awe-struck tone by everyone around the studio. Mrs. Gish, mother of the two lovely young girls who play the leading feminine roles in ‘Hearts of the World,” telephoned me that Lillian and Dorothy were at the studio that afternoon, and we would drive out about two o’clock. The exterior of the old Mutual – Reliance, Majestic, Fine Arts studio, out on Sunset Boulevard, was a keen disappointment to me. Perhaps I was looking for a cross between the San Francisco Exposition and Lincoln Park. Anyway, the huge pile of shacks, with a few Babylonian towers silhouetted against the sky, was not my idea of the proper place for D. W. Griffith, Lillian and Dorothy Gish and Bobby Harron to perpetuate their art. The girls were in their dressing room, attired in their “Hearts of the World” costumes, Dorothy in her “Little Disturber” gown, and Lillian in one of her bomb shattered frocks.
She had three copies of this same dress, each a little more dilapidated. Although they are quite unlike when you see them, still there’s a strong “family resemblance;” so Dorothy, who plays the part of a petite Parisienne, wears a short, curly black wig, while Lillian, the lovely, fragile fleur-de-lis, appears as her own beautiful blond self. I had long ago heard of David Belasco’s remark that Lillian Gish was the most perfect blonde he had ever seen; too, others have told me that none of her pictures, moving or otherwise, have done her justice; that she is far more beautiful. And I smiled and said nothing. One hears this sort of thing so often, and, anyway, I was entirely satisfied with the way Miss Gish looked on the screen—one could in the role of the Village Carpenter. A hardly ask for more. But it is true —for once the camera has failed to visualize certain facts. It is difficult to paint her exquisite daintiness, her ethereal loveliness, in cold black and white. I may be accused of rashness and all that sort of thing, but I want to go on record as saying that Lillian Gish is the most perfectly beautiful girl I have ever seen. And Dorothy – well, Dorothy is her mother’s own daughter in looks and speech and actions. She is very jolly, friendly, and clever — fairly bubbling over with fun, and her witty remarks kept us all laughing. She is very nervous, and kept chewing gum furiously—”to keep from chewing her nails,” as she expressed it. Their dressing room was very neat and pretty in black and white chintz. It is kept scrupulously clean by the “Madame,” the East Indian, who played a part in “The Birth of a Nation” – the negroes who spat and acted so dreadfully.
“Madame” fairly worships Mr. Griffith and calls him “her son.” The girls were waiting to do a scene or two, because Mr. Griffith had not liked the original. Retakes by the dozens he has done, so infinitely painstaking and careful is he always. Camera-Man Billy Bitzer appeared at the door and said that Mr. Griffith was calling for Miss Dorothy, and the scene was to be in the “lot,” so we went with her. This “lot” covers about two blocks of ground and is situated a block away from the studio. Out there all the exteriors, and ever so many “open interiors” such as the one Dorothy did, are taken. I spied Bobby Harron in his trench uniform, and then I looked around for the great Griffith. There was the illustrious gentleman, with his derby tilted on the side of his head and a long, black cigar in his mouth. Otherwise, he reminded me of a fine product of the old school of acting. Then I heard him speak. I have never heard such a compelling voice. It makes you think of people hurrying to obey whatever he might say. The scene was the staircase of “The Inn” in the little French village. They went over it countless times—it took an hour to get it finished, and it was the tiniest bit of action. Dorothy Gish looked as though she would drop from fatigue, but she was just as anxious as Mr. Griffith to have it perfect, so she went at it with all her might until he pronounced it satisfactory. When the scene was finished, a huge studio car rolled up and we all piled in. I had not met Mr. Griffith, and I was so impressed with being in his presence that I’m not quite sure what he said to me, except that he was very nice and cordial and wanted to know if this was my first experience and if I found it interesting. It was, and I did. Back to the studio, and this time it was an indoor set with Lillian and Robert Harron. “Mr. Griffith’s Boy ” as they call him, the hero of the play, is just the Robert Harron that you see on the screen—very serious, a little sad, quite “Griffith-like”—that’s the only word that properly describes him.
We went into a dark, cold room, stumbled over lumber, cords attached to lights, people, and other impedimenta. Then I reached some sort of consciousness that lights were burning very brightly, directions were shouted, and I fell into a chair which one Mr. George Seigmann, Griffith’s right-hand man, pushed out for me. In the film, Mr. Seigmann sinks to the depths of portraying Von Strohm, German secret-service agent ; otherwise he’s a very nice man. It was very thrilling, watching Mr. Griffith direct at such close range. His methods are very simple ; he doesn’t rant and rave—I think it’s his voice that puts things over. And he’s immensely funny at times. Again the scene didn’t suit him. Down to the projection room he went to look at the scene immediately before it. Mr. Seigmann succeeded in getting the set arranged correctly. Ready! Camera ! Action ! And it was over. Mrs. Gish told me how they happened to go to Europe with Mr. Griffith. They were in New York, waiting for him to decide just what he was going to do with his contract with the British government. The government insisted on plain war stuff, and Mr. Griffith insisted just as firmly that he must have a story running through the scenes on the western front. It was finally arranged, and Mrs. Gish, Lillian, and Mr. Griffith went first. When they were three days out, they wired for Dorothy, Robert Harron, and William Bitzer, the Camera-man who has filmed all the Griffith photo plays. The latter trio went over on the ship with Pershing; and Dorothy told me that she was quite delighted with the famous general, and he told her that he knew her, too, very well ; when he was in Mexico, motion pictures were the soldiers’ chief diversions, and the Gishes entertained them frequently.
At last came the lovely spring night for which we were anxiously waiting, Clune’s Theater, an immense place, was packed to the doors before eight o’clock, and a disappointed throng was clamoring outside for admission. In the lobby were boys dressed as French poilus, British Tommies, and our own American boys. Beautiful flowers were there, too—gifts to Mr. Griffith and his players. Of course California is so full of wonderful flowers that they don’t make quite the impression they would in New York, but a floral piece to Mr. Griffith “From the Boys” made even the native sons hesitate a moment to admire. It was Dorothy Gish’s idea that they mingle with the crowd on the opening night instead of occupying the customary box.
“I couldn’t have all those people staring at me,” said this very democratic young miss. And it was fortunate, indeed, for me that they decided on seats on the first floor of the mezzanine floor and secured one for me, or otherwise I would have had to seek cold comfort that night at Grauman’s or the Kinema. Every seat was sold on the first day. Dear Mrs. Gish chaperoned the party, looking almost as young as her two lovely daughters in her handsome black-and-silver gown and a corsage bouquet of red roses. “The most adorable Lily” sat next to me. Her evening coat was white velvet, with a white fur collar that hung to her waist. Yards of misty white maline were draped around her golden hair, which was arranged very simply in coils around her head. She wore an orchid-colored gown veiled in silver, and her flowers were orchids. I could scarcely keep my eyes on the picture for looking at her. Which, in itself, is quite a compliment.
Dorothy was very sweet and girlish in lavender taffeta. She hates fussy clothes. It is my opinion that if Mrs. Gish and Lillian didn’t attend to her wardrobe for her, this young lady would cling mostly to middy blouses and sport clothes. She had a birthday that week, however; so Lillian’s gift, a truly wonderful evening coat, was aired for the first time. It was a ravishing affair of lavender and gray chiffon, banded with flying squirrel, and, as Dorothy said : “I may freeze to death, but I’ll have to wear my new coat!” Robert Harron was there, looking very handsome and boyish in his evening clothes. Right next to Bobby was a vacant seat—behind a post. Oh, how I wished for one adoring Griffith satellite I knew—I am sure he would have gladly craned his neck around that post for a week just to see “The Hearts of the World.”
Just behind us was a seat reserved for Mr. Griffith, which he didn’t occupy. I’m not sure just where the master director watched the picture ; but he turned up later, so I knew he was around somewhere.
In her box on one side of the theater, Queen Mary Pickford held court, a very lovely Mary, with a dear smile on her face and many curls on top of her head. The entire picture-play colony turned out to do Mr. Griffith homage. I doubt if there has ever been such a brilliant assemblage under one roof. There was Howard Hickman with his wife, the lovely Bessie Barriscale; Mr. and Mrs. Robert McKim ; Mildred Harris ; Seena Owen, looking more than ever “The Princess Beloved ;” Alma Rubens, the beautiful brunette from the Triangle forces, in a stunning white evening gown ; Blanche Sweet in palest gray, a very sweet and flowerlike Blanche, whom all her friends greeted Warmly. It’s been many a day since we’ve seen her face on the screen. The Talmadge family was represented by Mrs. Talmadge, Constance, a very attractive young person in brown and Natalie, who looks very much like Norma. Promptly at eight fifteen the curtain rose, and “the play was the thing.” The action was so intense and stirring that it didn’t seem half an hour, although it was really almost three hours long. It is marvelous to think how the brains and genius of one man can sway such a vast throng—they were chilled and thrilled and dissolved in tears. It was superb.
“An Old-fashioned Play with a New-fashioned Theme,” the program calls it. Yes, it is an old, old story, but it is told in the newest and most wonderful way. And far above the din of battle, massing of troops, recapturing of villages, one can always hear the love note—the thing which Griffith shows is going to save the world. Whenever the battle scenes get just a little too horrible to endure comfortably, when the action is so realistic that one can almost feel the shrapnel flying around, we are taken back to the peaceful quiet of the little French village and our nerves allowed to rest for a brief space. All the lovely, human touches that have characterized the former Griffith spectacles are present in “The Hearts of the World.” To me they are the greatest marks of the Griffith genius. As far as personal successes are concerned, Lillian Gish as Marie Stephenson is startlingly superior to anything she has ever done. Pitifully lovely she has been before, but never really so fine as in this role. With her exquisite, poignant beauty, she is the real spirit of France. Robert Harron’s Douglas Gordon Hamilton is splendid and soldierly, and, oh, how we sorrow and rejoice with him in his love affair with “The Girl !” Into the midst of this Eden comes The Little Disturber, a strolling singer, charmingly played by Dorothy Gish, and she falls in love with young Hamilton. Of course it is of no avail, but the part gives Miss Dorothy a chance to show what a remarkably clever little comedienne she is. She makes the most of every foot of film she is given—and we can’t help wishing she had several hundred more. I must say just a word about the music that was especially arranged for the production. Never before, I think, have melodies been so deftly woven throughout a picture. The music is indeed part of it—not a mere background. It was arranged after the manner that Wagner wrote.
THE presentation of D. W. Griffith’s love story of the Great War, “Hearts of the World,” makes it imperative that I open my remarks on recent screen offerings with a short discussion of the war picture. For there has never been anything like “Hearts of the World.” Griffith alone has been able to bring the bigness of the world conflict to the celluloid. It has overwhelmed all other directors and writers who have endeavored to touch upon it intimately. The usual product is a foolish melodrama. Neither hero nor heavy is human. But Griffith’s skill has resulted in the interweaving of a beautiful love story carried by human protagonists with the somber, relentless panorama of war in all its reality. The actual scenes he procured at the front are amazing, and the domestic scenes supplementing them even more so. The Gish sisters, Robert Harron, Robert Anderson, youthful Ben Alexander, and George Siegemann perform as they could only under the master director.