Lillian Gish: A Night to Recall The Glory Years – By JUDY KLEMESRUD (The New York Times – 1980)

ap wire press photo actress lillian gish london 1980

Lillian Gish: A Night to Recall The Glory Years


The New York Times – September 20, 1980

Members of the “Old Hollywood,” who reigned on the screen during the film industry’s glamour and glory years, turned out in force Thursday night to honor Lillian Gish at a party celebrating a retrospective of her films at the Museum of Modem Art. “This must be heaven,” the 84-year–0ld Miss Gish told the star-studded audience after a program that included tributes from some of her friends and excerpts from five of her films, beginning with “Broken Blossoms” (1919) and ending with “The Night of the Hunter” (1955). Miss Gish looked as glamorous as she ever has in any film role. She was wearing a long black floral-printed gown covered by a layer of black chiffon. Her blond hair was swept up and caught in the back by a single white carnation. Several people who greeted her in the receiving line could be heard whispering about “Lillian’s beautiful blue eyes” and her “fabulous white skin.” Helen Hayes, one of Miss Gish’s closest friends, began her tribute in the museum’s auditorium by saying: “What do you say about the godmother of your son, the godmother of your grandson? And she’s a good godmother, too. She does her job.” Sir john Gielgud, whom Miss Gish has often described as her favorite leading man, recalled the time in the 1930’s when he was asked to play Hamlet in New York, with Miss Gish as Ophelia.

Lillian Gish and Sir John Gielgud in "Hamlet"
Lillian Gish and Sir John Gielgud in “Hamlet”

“My response was, ‘Is she still young enough?'” Sir John told the black-tie audience of 350.

Not long after that, he recalled, he was getting ready to go on stage one night when he saw “a tiny little head” peak around his dressing room door, saying, “Am I still young enough to play Ophelia?” She certainly was, he noted. Sir John then peered out into the audience in Miss Gish’s direction and said: “At a time when there are not so many great actresses as there were when I was young, we just cherish those we have left;”

Blanchette Rockefeller, president of the museum, who stood next to Miss Gish in the receiving line, read tributes to the actress from Francois Truffaut, Princess Grace of Monaco, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Eva Marie Saint.

At the party afterward in the museum’s penthouse, many of the guests paid their respects to Miss Gish by stopping by her table to hug and kiss her.

Lillian Gish - John Gielgud
Lillian Gish – John Gielgud

Hugging and Kissing

Ruth Ford, noting what was happening, commented to her escort: “It’s hard to embrace her with a drink in my hand.” So she handed her drink to him and then strolled over to Miss Gish and hugged and kissed her. And of course, since it was September and the first party of the season for many of the guests, and theater people being theater people, there was much hugging and kissing among them, too.

“Mo!” exclaimed Irene Worth, when she ran into Maureen Stapleton at the cheese board. “Irene!” Miss Stapleton exclaimed back. Both actresses emitted slight screams, and then embraced each other. Anita Loos, another good friend of Miss Gish, arrived too late for the tribute In the auditorium but was in time to indulge In the pastries and cheeses at the party. She said she had been at an auction at the Waldorf-Astoria where Charles Hamilton auctioned off her original manuscript for “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” as well as a letter to Miss Loos from William Faulkner. The manuscript drew $3,200, the letter $1,900. Among the other partygoers were Morton Gottlieb, the Broadway producer, who arrived, as usual, on his bicycle; Joan Fontaine: Joan Benett; Adolph Green; Betty Comden; Arlene Dahl; Ruth Gordon and her husband, Garson Kanin; Hermione Gingold; Celeste Holm and her husband, Wesley Addy; Nedda Logan; Fritz Weaver; Patrice Munsel; Jack Gilford; Ruth Warrick and Vera Maxwell.

Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked witch in “The Wizard of Oz” and who now plays Cora in coffee commercials, sat at a table with Joan Bennett, drinking something that smelled a lot like Scotch and water.

“Oh, it’s Maxwell House coffee – of a kind,” Miss Hamilton said with a laugh. Toward the end of the party, Darrell Ruhl, an actor who made a documentary film about Johnny Appleseed with Mis5 Gish this year, walked up to the actress and said: “If you get a good agent, you might make it.”


Miss Gish laughed.

“I always say that to her,” Mr. Ruhl explained, “and she usually tells me, ‘You’ve got to eat more.'”

The Lillian Gish film retrospective opened yesterday and will run until Oct. 7 at the Museum of Modem Art. It includes 19 of the 100 films the actress made and spans her entire career, from her first film, “An Unseen Enemy” (1912) through her latest film, “A Wedding” (1978).

Lillian Gish - A Night to Recall The Glory Years NYTimes Sep 20 1980
Lillian Gish – A Night to Recall The Glory Years NYTimes Sep 20 1980

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And Right After This Message, Miss Lillian Gish – By Jon Krampner (The New York Times – 1999)

The New York Times – 1999

TELEVISION/RADIO; And Right After This Message, Miss Lillian Gish

By Jon Krampner

Oct. 10, 1999

MOVIEGOERS remember Horton Foote’s ”Trip to Bountiful” as a 1985 film starring Geraldine Page, who won the best actress Oscar for it. But there is an earlier version, a 1953 live television drama starring Lillian Gish, which has been sitting in the film collection at the Museum of Modern Art for 44 years.

The play, which also stars Eileen Heckart, John Beal and Eva Marie Saint, was an episode of NBC’s ”Goodyear TV Playhouse.” And this week (Thursday at 3 P.M. and Friday at 6:30 P.M.) the museum plans to screen a video copy of the one-hour kinescope (a film made of the images on a television monitor during broadcast), complete with original commercials.

It’s an annual ritual for the Modern to show one of Lillian Gish’s works on her birthday (Oct. 14). But what makes this occasion unusual (other than the fact that it’s only the seventh birthday since Gish died) is that the museum is presenting a television show rather than a feature film.

”The idea was to show something outside of what we’ve traditionally shown, which is her silent work,” says Steven Higgins, curator of MOMA’s film and video department. In the recent past, the museum has shown ”Orphans of the Storm” (1922), ”Hearts of the World” (1918) and ”Way Down East” (1920).

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Theatre: Stage to Screen to Television – By William Torbert Leonard – London 1981 (All The Way Home)

Theatre: Stage to Screen to Television

By William Torbert Leonard – London 1981


Pulitzer Prize Play (1961). Best Play, New York Drama Critics Circle Award (1961).

A play in three acts by Tad Mosel, based on James Agee’s Pulitzer Prize novel, A Death in the Family (1960)

Colleen Dewhurst ALL THE WAY HOME Arthur Miller - Lillian Gish 1960 New York's - Where
Colleen Dewhurst ALL THE WAY HOME Arthur Miller – Lillian Gish 1960 New York’s – Where


Religious, conventional, urban-born, prim Mary Lynch has married exuberant, earthy, rural-bred Jay Follet. Despite tensions created by their disparate temperaments and backgrounds, they have established a deeply happy marriage, reflected in the mutual love of their large families, each other, and their small son, Rufus. Irritated by Mary’s pristine reluctance to tell Rufus about her present pregnancy, Jay leaves to visit his dying father. On the way back to his Knoxville, Tennessee home, Jay is killed when his car crashes. Mary, to whom “God has always come easily, ” finds no comfort in her Catholicism and withdraws into her sorrow. Soon the awareness and understanding of Jay’s zest of living and the stirring of the child within her give her courage to face the future and she tells Rufus about the expected baby.

Final Curtain All The Way Home 61

Comment and Critique

James Agee’s elegiac and touching novel A Death in the Fam¬ ily was published posthumously by McDowell, Obolensky two years after his death from a heart attack in New York City on May 16, 1955, at the age of forty-five. The novel, awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1958, was adapted as a play in 1960 by Tad Mosel (George Ault Mosel, Jr.). Mosel won the Pulitzer Prize for his play in 1961, marking the first time in the forty-five-year-old history of the awards that a play adapted from a Pulitzer Prize novel was also the recipient of the award. The play opened to general critical acclaim but was ignored by the public. Three days after the opening, the closing notice went up. The author, producers, director and other personnel waived their royalties and salaries; the Shuberts reduced the theatre rental and the published announcement of the play’s closing added public support. Again the closing notice went up for Saturday April 22, 1961, but on Tuesday, April 18 the play was given the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as the Best Play of the Year and, again, survived. The flux of audience absenteeism and hopeful honorariums won the beleaguered play the synonym of “The Miracle on 44th Street.” In the superlative cast assembled for the play, Colleen Dewhurst (who won the “Tony” Award as Best Supporting Actress in a Drama), Arthur Hill, Lillian Gish, Aline MacMahon, Art Smith and others, was an 81-year-old woman who played the role of Great-Great-Granmaw, Lylah Tiffany, who for eleven years supported herself by playing the accordion on the sidewalk outside of Carnegie Hall. Miss Tiffany repeated her role of the 102- year-old Great-Great-Granmaw in the film version of the play.

The 1963 screen version of the Agee-Mosel play lost much of its magic despite excellent performances from Robert Preston and Jean Simmons as the Follets.

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s December 1, 1971, telecast of All The Way Home, featuring Joanne Woodward and Richard Kiley as Mary and Jay Follet in a well-mounted, beautifully-acted production, captured much of Agee’s feeling and mood and memory of his own childhood in Knoxville of 1915.

Lillian Gish Colleen Dewhurst All the Way Home Signed P


Belasco Theatre, New York, opened November 30, 1960. 334 performances. Produced by Fred Coe (in association with Arthur Cantor); Director, Arthur Penn; Settings and lighting, David Hays; Costumes, Raymond Sovey; Assistant director, Gene Lasko Arthur Hill (Jay Follet); Colleen Dewhurst (Mary Follet); Lillian Gish (Catherine Lynch); Aline MacMahon (Aunt Hannah Lynch); Art Smith (Father Jackson); Lenka Peterson (Sally Follet); Clifton James (Ralph Follet); Edwin Wolfe (John Henry Follet); Thomas Chalmers (Joel Lynch); Tom Wheatley (Andrew Lynch); Georgia Simmons (Jessie Follet); Dorrit Kelton (Aunt Sadie Follet); Lylah Tiffany (Great-Great-Granmaw); John Megna (Rufus); Christopher Month (Jim-Wilson); Larry Provost, Jeff Conaway, Gary Morgan, Robert Ader (Boys)

Colleen Dewhurst ALL THE WAY HOME Lillian Gish 1960 Boston Panorama Magazine


Paramount Pictures, released October, 1963. Produced by David Susskind; Associate producer, Jack Grossberg; Director, Alex Segal; Assistant directors, Larry Sturhahn, Michael Hertzberg; Screenplay, Phillip Reisman, Jr.; Camera, Boris Kaufman; Music, Bernard Green; Art director, Richard Sylbert; Editor, Carl Lerner Robert Preston (Jay Follet); Jean Simmons (Mary Follet); Aline MacMahon (Aunt Hannah Lynch); Pat Hingle (Ralph Follet); Thomas Chalmers (Joel Lynch); John Cullum (Andrew Lynch); Ronnie Claire Edwards (Sally Follet) Michael Kearney (Rufus); John Henry Faulk (Walter Starr); Lylah Tiffany (Great-Great-Granmaw); Mary Perry (Grand-Aunt Sadie Follet); Georgia Simmons (Jessie Follet); Edwin Wolfe (John Henry Follet); Ferdie Hoffman (Father Jackson)


Hallmark Hall of Fame, televised December 1, 1971. NBC. 90 minutes. Produced by David Susskind; Director, Fred Coe; Television adaptation, Tad Mosel Joanne Woodward (Mary); Richard Kiley (Jay); Eileen Heckart (Aunt Hannah); Pat Hingle (Ralph); Barnard Hughes (Joel); James Woods (Andrew); Shane Nickerson (Rufus); Jane Mallett (Catherine); Betty Garde (Aunt Sadie); Kay Hawtrey (Sally); James O’Neill (John Henry); Nan Stewart (Jessie); Allen Clowes (Father Jackson)


During the summer of 1961, Marsha Hunt, Frank Overton, Anne Revere, Eugenia Rawls, William Hansen, Gene Wilder and others made a brief tour in the play.

All The Way Home Tryout prog 1

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Lillian Gish in Philip Barry’s ‘The Joyous Season’ By Brooks Atkinson (The New York Times – 1934)

The New York Times – Tuesday, January 30, 1934

Lillian Gish in Philip Barry’s ‘The Joyous Season’ — Opening of ‘Hotel Alimony.’

By Brooks Atkinson.


THE „JOYOUS SEASON” a play in three acts. by Philip Barry. Settings by Robert Edmond Jones: staged and produced by Arthur Hopkins. At the Belasco Theatre.

  • Francis Battle ………………… Eric Dressler
  • Theresa Farley Battle ……….. Jane Wyatt
  • Martin Farley ……………… Jerome Lawler
  • Patrick ……………………… Barry Macollum
  • Hugh Farley ……………….. Alan Campbell
  • Ross Farley ……………………  John Eldredge
  • Monica Farley ……….. Florence Williams
  • John Farley ………………… Moffat Johnston
  • Edith Choate Farley ………Mary Kennedy
  • Christina Farley ……………….. Lillian Gish
  • Nora ………………………………. Kate Mayhew
  • Sister Aloysius …………………… Mary Hone

Since Mr. O’Neill has described „Days Without End” as a modern miracle play, Philip Barry is entitled to give “The Joyous Season” the same distinction. He does not. In the program at the Belasco, where it was acted !ast evening, he describes it simply as „a new play.” But it presents Lillian Gish in the part of a reverent sister of the Catholic faith. In three acts it shows how the radiance of the sister’s spirit redeems her family from worldly melancholy on Christmas Day. It is a play that lies close to the heart of things and speaks honestly about tremulous matters that are seldom mentioned in the theatre. Some of it is deeply moving; all of it discloses a decency and fineness of feeling. Mr. Barry is not the man to theatricalize a Iesson in faith. But still, in this reviewer’s opinion, a religious topic seems to place an impediment in the freedom of Mr. Barry’s imagination. Inasmuch as “The Joyous Season” is a testament to the joy of faith, why should it lack the tumultuous emotion of ”The Animal Kingdom”, or „Tomorrow and Tomorrow”? Mr. Barry has written with more exultation upon less earnest occasions.

The plot is simplet as becomes the theme. After having been apart from her family for many years in the service of the church Sister Christina is briefly united with them at the Christmas season. Her mother has left Christina in her will the choice of two properties.

Joyous Season 1950 close up

During her visit she has to decide which to accept. Put that is only the framework of the play. The real problem is the spiritual apathy of her brothers and sisters. Once they used to be a gay family of Irish parents in the neighborhood of Boston. But now that they have become a family of distinction there and are all living together on Beacon Street, Christina finds them gloomy, ingrown, moribund and pettish toward each other. Their apathy is almost maglignance. It is separating husbands and wives and poisoning the single idealist with despair. ”The Joyous Season” is the narrative of how Christina’s faith and spirit infiltrate their lives and bring most of them back to a state of awareness and fulfillment.

By setting his play in Boston Mr. Barry bas localized it a good deal. Perhaps it requires a Bostonian to savor completely the moribund family life of the Farley clan-their formal respectability and their interior distaste for each other. “Being a Bostonian is a full-time job at half pay,”says the banker of the family, who is really a custodian of vaults. There is a devious satire in Mr. Barry’s portrait of his family that Bostonians will relish most keenly.

But that is only a trifling matter. What limits the scope of “The Joyous Season” more rigidly is the unevenness of the characterization. Francis and Terry Battle he has described completely. Her stubbornness and callousness of mind, his reticent idealism, the jangled mixture of their lives reveal these young people; and we know enough about them to respond to their problems. Mr. Barry has also written the part of Christina in such generous terms that we can understand her too, and feel the glow of her being. But the others are either generalized types or phantoms in a play. By leaving them in that murky penumbra Mr. Barry has lost a good deal of the lustre of his theme.

Joyous Season 1950

The acting reflects some of the same confusion. As Christina, Miss Gish is superb. Apart from the aura of’ her presence, which illuminates the sort of part she is playing, she has created a character with the imagery of her gestures and the inflections of her passionless voice. Jane Wyatt gives a splendid performance as the turbulent Terry whose moods are blazing and various. Eric Dressler invigorates the part of Terry’s husband with a note of candor and sincerity.

As the eldest brother Moffat Johnston is concrete and discerning. John Eldredge bas a buoyancy of playing that clarifies a good deal the inconclusive part of the brother radical. Kate Mayhew brings a jaunty sentiment to the part of an old family retaineress.

In his design of a dull living-room, Robert Edmond Jones has captured one aspect of the play, but this is not one of his n1ost illuminating settings. It shares Mr. Barry’s hesitation. Much of “The Joyous Season” is stirring and exalting. But in this reviewer’s opinion. it is not the great religious play Mr. Barry can write. It is not flooded with fervent emotion.

The Joyous Season - By Brooks Atkinson

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Hollywood Honors Miss Gish – By Aljean Harmetz (The New York Times – 1984)


By Aljean Harmetz

The New York Times – Thursday March 1, 1984

Sitting in a hotel room six floors above the ballroom where she is to be given the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award tonight, Lillian Gish wears pearls and red lipstick. Her long forehead slopes down to amazingly bushy eyebrows, two thick crayon strokes in an unlined face.

The 90-year-old actress has started this day, as she does every day, with an hour of exercise, including sit-ups, although her collapsible slant board has been left behind in her New York apartment. Since 1940, she has fought gravity by lying upside down on the slant board each morning at 7 o’clock.

”Time is your friend; you get wiser,” she says. ”But gravity is your enemy. It sucks you into your grave. Everything important in your body is from here to here.” She puts one hand at her throat and another on the top of her head. ”Eyes, hearing, thought, smell, taste. If the heart were important, it wouldn’t be behind those two little ribs.”


Time has vainly tried to reduce Lillian Gish to mythology – the gilded icon of all that was lovely before movies had a voice: How, for her role in D. W. Griffth’s ”Way Down East” in 1920, she lay for hours on the ice of Long Island Sound with her hair and hand trailing in freezing water. How she denied herself anything to drink for three days before playing her death scene from consumption in King Vidor’s ”Boh eme” in 1926. How she stood under the African sun – 130 degrees and not even a tree for refuge – from dawn until dusk in 1967 for ”The Comedians,” and then, suitably dressed for elegant dining, spent the evening discussing African politics and the religious aspects of Graham Greene’s novels. How her Victorian sense of duty made her choose to nurse her sick mother rather than take the role that Tennessee Williams had written for her, Blanche DuBois, in the play that was to become ”A Streetcar Named Desire.”


Outliving One’s Enemies

If Lillian Gish ever had any enemies, she has outlived them. Longevity has obscured her importance. It is subtly patronizing when one is given credit for simply managing to stay upright after all one’s contemporaries are underground.

One can put Lillian Gish’s career into perspective by observing that if she had stopped working a half-century ago, when she was 40 years old, her contributions to the American cinema would still be astonishing. The man she always called ”Mr. Griffith” used her as his paintbrush when he created the American cinema in films such as ”Birth of a Nation,” ”Intolerance,” ”Broken Blossoms” and ”Orphans of the Storm.” She was the perfect Victorian heroine – fragile, virginal and poignant, alabaster pale with ash-blond hair cascading down her back.

Although the pale blond hair has faded to gray, it still cascades below her waist. ”I’ve never been to a hairdresser,” she says. ”I’ve never had my hair cut, nor have I ever plucked an eyebrow. I don’t wear glasses and I have all my own teeth.”

Her mind skips up and down the decades, stopping to pick up a fragment of memory here, a sprig of her askew Victorian childhood there.

In 1899, when boardinghouses really had signs refusing dogs and actors, her embarrassed aunt warned the 5-year-old actress not to talk about her profession. ”If people knew we were in the theater, their children wouldn’t be allowed to play with us,” Miss Gish recalls. Lillian and her younger sister, Dorothy, were expected to have good manners plus the discipline to go on stage night after night. And ”even when there was not enough money for food, mother embroidered lace on our panties.”

Around 1914, their mother dragged Lillian and Dorothy to see land on the western outskirts of Los Angeles that could be purchased for $300 down. Miss Gish laughs. ”It had been raining. We said, ‘Mother, we worked so hard for our money. Do you want us to spend it on all this mud?’ So we didn’t buy the Sunset Strip.”

AFI Life Achievement Award A Tribute to Lillian Gish (1984) with AFI founder George Stevens Jr - Photo - Globe
AFI Life Achievement Award A Tribute to Lillian Gish (1984) with AFI founder George Stevens Jr – Photo – Globe

Her words return to her beloved silent film. ”There was never such a thing as silent film. There was always music, even if the music was only a tinny, tiny piano. Silent film was the greatest invention of the last 100 years. When films learned to talk, we lost 95 percent of our audience, because only 5 percent of the world speaks English. The Roxy Theater in New York held 6,424 people and it was crowded from 10 in the morning until 2 the next morning. Now, my little meat market on 59th Street has been turned into a theater that holds 200 people. It hurts my pride to go into those tiny theaters.”

Lillian Gish is the 12th recipient of the institute’s award, given annually to someone ”whose work has stood the test of time.” She follows John Ford, James Cagney, Orson Welles, William Wyler, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Alfred Hitchcock, James Stewart, Fred Astaire, Frank Capra and John Huston. Tonight’s dinner will be filmed for television.

Miss Gish has acted in 50 plays and more than 100 movies, most of them one- and two-reelers at a time when David Wark Griffith was, in her words, ”giving film its form and grammar.” She made 11 movies in 1912, 20 movies in 1913. But she also made films when the silent era was at its peak, including ”The Wind” for the director Victor Seastrom in 1928.

Kevin Brownlow, the silent-film historian, has pointed out that while stage performances can safely be called great because they survive only in memory, film performances can be subjected to scrutiny. More than 50 years later, her performance as a spunky, resolute Virginia-bred girl in ”The Wind,” who is driven to madness by the raw, incessant Texas winds, still seems extraordinary in the delicacy of its nuances and in something that can best be described as strength shining through frailness.

In real life, her strength is legendary. ”I couldn’t ever be ill,” she says, as though good health were merely a matter of will. In all her years in the theater, she missed only one performance – when she stayed with her sister in the hospital because their mother could not be there.

The Night of The Hunter
The Night of The Hunter

Miss Gish describes many of the characters she played – including her Ophelia to John Gielgud’s Hamlet on Broadway – as ”ga-ga babies, innocent little virgins who were nice to look at for five minutes but how did you make them interesting for an hour?” She succeeded by giving most of them a spiritual strength that burned through the sentimental silliness of the plots in which they were embedded. The same radiant strength was there, in a more distilled form, in her roles as protector of two children in ”The Night of the Hunter” in 1955 and as a dying matriarch in ”A Wedding” in 1978.

Hambone and Hillie (promo) Lillian Gish laughing
Hambone and Hillie (candid) Lillian Gish on set

Her newest movie, ”Hambone and Hillie,” will be released in the spring. She plays Hillie; Hambone is a mongrel dog. Brooks Atkinson wrote that, as a performer, she had no vanity. ”How can you have vanity if you look at yourself on the screen?” she asks.

But her lack of vanity stops at the stage door. ”In life, vanity is a virtue,” she says. ”How can you let yourself weigh 300 pounds? The human body is a wonderful thing and it’s the only house you get to live in.”

She reads Jung and William Blake and the morning papers. ”There’s never been a more exciting century,” she says. She is writing one book on religion – ”As I get older, I believe in what I can’t see and understand” – and another, for children, that recreates the Christmases of her childhood: ”How good and kind people in my world were to children who had good manners.”

Looking back at a life dedicated to work, she has no regrets. ”I loved dear men,” she says, ”beautiful men who offered me their names. But I’m so glad I didn’t ruin any of their lives by marrying them.”

Lillian Gish m2 - Nell Dorr 1930
Nell Dorr (1893-1988); [Portrait of Lillian Gish with beads in hair and seated view 2]; nitrate negative; Amon Carter Museum of American Art; Fort Worth TX; P1990.47.3505

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Lillian Gish Shines in ‘All the Way Home,’ as She and Sister Have in Many Things – By Brooks Atkinson (New York Times, 1960)

The New York Times, December 27, 1960

Critic at Large

Lillian Gish Shines in ‘All the Way Home,’ as She and Sister Have in Many Things

By Brooks Atkinson

When the curtain goes up on the second act of “All The Way Home” at the Belasco Theatre, Lillian Gish is discovered sitting primly on a sofa, as the deaf and daft mother of a grown family. The audience applauds before she speaks a word.

The audience is applauding one of the pleasantest American legends. For the Gish girls – Lillian and Dorothy have been through the whole cycle of American show business from road companies in the first decade of the century and the silent films in the second to the theatre of today.

Lillian Gish Colleen Dewhurst All the Way Home Signed P

Both of them are about a foot wide and four inches thick, erect and cheerful. Both of them hop around America and Europe whenever anything interests them, and they let out little puffs of enthusiasm as they roll along. They see everything and know everyone. They are as much a part of American folklore as Jack Dempsey, Jimmy Durante and Harry S. Truman. Having been consistently modern for a half century, they give their country continuity.

As one of the players in the season’s most sensitively acted drama, Lillian is very busy now, changing in and out of wig and costume eight times a week; and, like the other actors, talking on the radio whenever she is bidden, “selling. the product,” to use her phrase. But if she were not acting a part or crusading for a cause, she would be busy about something else. Probably she would be putting the finishing touches on her book about D. W. Griffith.

1960's Close Up - Miss Lillian Gish

She has never been bored in her life. Years ago, when she was billed in the programs on the road as “Baby Alice” or  “Baby Ann,” she took her first curtain call on the shoulders of Walter Huston in a melodrama called “In Convict’s Stripes” or another one called “The Little Red Schoolhouse,” she can’t remember which. In tow of her mother, May Barnard, an ingenue, she and her sister traipsed up and down the land. They learned how to count by watching the man in the box office, and how to read schoolbooks under their mother’s tutelage in dressing rooms and day coaches.

Since her mother had a passion for going through factories, both the Gish girls have a Iong background in factory culture, and to this day they never pass a factory without feeling that they ought to go through it.

Colleen Dewhurst ALL THE WAY HOME Lillian Gish 1960 Boston Panorama Magazine

When they were in their teens they grew “rather long in the leg” and it was time to make a change. That’s how they ventured into the world of the silent film eventually under the direction of Griffith. Together or individually they appeared in “The Birth of a Nation”, “Intolerance”, “Broken Blossoms,” “Way Down East” and “The Orphans of the Storm,” all of them regarded as film classics today. ***

Since there was no tradition in film acting, they had to invent one, and they did. For more than forty-five years later they are still known and recognized all over the world. When the Moscow Art Theatre undertook to visit America in 1920’s Stanislavsky and Nemirovitch-Dantchenko studied Griffith films in search of a pantomime style that would make the Russian actors intelligible in a foreign land, and they found a style that they could use.


When Russian actors and dancers come here today, they are inclined to study Lillian as if she were a monument. It is a little disconcerting a gay, incandescent lady who wants to talk and listen.

If she radiates generally goodwill, it is because she is without vanity. That simplifies her life. She does not have to worry about her dignity or about maintaining “public image.” She is less interested in herself than in other people, and she is therefore, still learning.

1961 Wire Photo Actor Lillian Gish Colleen Dewhurst Thomas Chalmers

Having had no formal education she has been a reader of all kinds of books since she first discovered the exciting world of culture in the Twenties. Being aware of the world around her, she has little patience with the introspective school of acting. It does not have enough interest in the audience, she thinks. What moves an actor is a matter of no importance in her view. What moves an audience is.

Final Curtain All The Way Home 61

As one member of a superb company that includes Colleen Dewhurst, Arthur Hill, Aline MacMahon and John Megna, Lillian treats the character she plays in “All The Way Home” as one figure in the delicate fabric of a family play. Everything she does on the stage she does for the play. The applause is for a woman who has always regarded the theatre as an enlightened and practical form of democracy.

The New York Times – Published December 27, 1960

*** Admin note: Dorothy Gish starred only in the last film presented above, (Orphans), she on the other hand was distributed in “Hearts of the World,” “Romola,” and “Remodeling a Husband”, the only movie Lillian Gish directed.

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Miss Lillian Gish, as a Reincarnation of Lizzie Borden, Appears in “Nine Pine Street.” (The New York Times – April 28, 1933)

Miss Lillian Gish, as a Reincarnation of Lizzie Borden, Appears in “Nine Pine Street.”


The New York Times – April 28, 1933


NINE PINE STREET, an adaptation in three acts and an epilogue, by John Colton and Carlton Miles, from an original play by William Miles and Donald Blackwell. Settings and costumes prepared by Robert Edmond Jones: staged by A. H. Van Buren: produced by Margaret Hewes. At the Longacre Theatre.

  • Clara. Holden ………………….. Helen Cloire
  • Annie ………………………….. Barna Ostertag
  • Mrs. Holden …………………….  Janet Young
  • Mrs. Powell …………………… Eleanor Hicks
  • Edward Holden ………….. Robert Harrison
  • Effie Holden ………………………. Lillian Gish
  • Warren Pitt ……………… Raymond Hackett
  • Mrs. Carrie Riggs ………….. Roberta Beatty
  • Captain James Tate ….. John H. Morrissey
  • lrilss Littlefield …………. Catherine Proctor
  • Miss Roberts ……… Jessamine Newcombe
  • Dr. Pov.·eu ………………… William Ingersoll
  • Lieut. Middleton …………… James Hollicky
  • Rev. Appleton…………….. James P. Houston
  • ErnesUne ………………………. Andree Corday
  • Martin Lodge …………….. Clinton Sundberg

Miss Lillian Gish, who of late has been known in these parts more as the lady of the camelias, became last evening “a forget-me-not in the rain.” That was the phrase applied by one of those New York reporters to Effie Holden, after the trial in New Bedford. And at, the hour in which ”9 Pine Street” finally discharged its “first audience” to the street before the Longacre Theatre, that thought will do, even now. For most of what there is in the literate reincarnation of the Lizzie Borden case of hallowed memory is-well, Miss Gish.

Playbill Lillian Gish - Nine Pine Street 1933 NYC

Miss Borden was the lady of Massachusetts, and the decade that was mauve, who gave her mother forty whacks, and then her father forty-one. Out of her life, with the murders, the trial and the mystery, a series of authors have constructed ”9 Pine Street.” John Colton and Carlton Miles were those immediately responsible, and in the dim background of an earlier play were William Miles and Donald Blackwell. To sum up their collected work, the suggestion must remain that much of it is long, not a little is tedious, and some of it is woven nicely together. And then, of course, there are Miss Gish and a good cast to move it along.

Those blithe enthusiasts for the Gay Nineties’ most sacred murders would perhaps shudder at some of the liberties that have been taken with the career of Fall River’s notable. The hatchet of the jingles and the pamphlets has given way to the lowly flat-iron, and in an, epilogue the whole thing has been attached to what is called ”the New England conscience.” That might have been one explanation for Miss Borden’s shutting herself up in her home after her acquittal, but it did “9 Pine Street” no good as a play.

1930 promo - Nine Pine Street
Nine Pine Street

But to return once more to Miss Gish. She gives a fine performance in all its varied details, and they are many, ranging as they do from love to murder. She injects into the whole of the play a feeling of sincerity, and those parts of it that seem most real are due to her. And there are others to help-Raymond Hackett, in the part of Warren Pitt; Roberta Beatty as Mrs. Carrie Riggs, who marries Edward Holden and so gets the forty whacks; William Ingersoll as Dr. Powell. Also some more.

The difficulties into which „9 Pine Street” squirms at times are due, perhaps, to the authors’ effort to capture the period, and the opinions, and the thoughts and the manners thereof. They devote most of the first act to that, and it grows tedious. The Borden case-on which the play has so admittedly been based-is too fresh, even now, to require a further setting. The second act is splendid, and the third is in part very good. The epilogue appears to be only an editorial comment, and mostly bathetic. On the whole there must remain the feeling that “9 Pine Street” is not quite the same class with its model of Fall River.  (L. N.)

Nine Pine Street NY Times April 22 1933
Nine Pine Street NY Times April 22 1933

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Theatre: Stage to Screen to Television – By William Torbert Leonard – London 1981 (ANASTASIA)

Theatre: Stage to Screen to Television

By William Torbert Leonard – London 1981


A play in three acts by Marcelle Maurette, English adaptation by Guy Bolton (1953)


Former Don Cossack General and Aide-de-Camp to Tsar Nicholas II, Prince Arcade Arcadievitch Bounine, becomes intrigued in 1926 with a hospital patient’s story. Claiming she is the youngest daughter, the Royal Princess Anastasia Nicolaevna, and lone survivor of the massacred Russian royal family in an Ekaterinburg cellar on July 16, 1918, Bounine takes the ill woman to his Berlin home after preventing her contemplated suicide in the Landwehr Canal. Bounine conspires with his White Russian friends, Chernov and Petrovin, to prove to residing exiled Russian royalty, including the late Tsar’s mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna and her grand nephew, Prince Paul, that the woman Anna Bronin is in reality the Princess Anastasia. Intent on sharing the late Tsar’s millions, deposited in foreign banks, the plotters are astounded to discover Anna’s improving health brings recall of little known facts about the Romanov family. Prince Paul accepts her as Anastasia, his childhood sweetheart, while the Dowager Empress maintains rigid cynicism about the presumed imposter. After relating a childhood episode known only to the regal old lady and her granddaughter, the Dowager Empress accepts Anna. Bounine and his accomplices become believers. A massive reception is arranged to present Anna to the public as the Royal Princess Anastasia Nicolaevna Romanov and announce her forthcoming marriage to Prince Paul. As the Dowager Empress, Prince Paul and Bounine prepare to enter the ballroom, the maid Varya enters carrying Anna’s royal gown. Anastasia/Anna Bronin, Princess/imposter, has gone, possibly to meet Dr. Michael Serensky, her former lover who had visited her earlier pleading for her to return to him in Budapest.

Lillian Gish (standing on platform) and company in the stage production Anya 1965
Lillian Gish (standing on platform) and company in the stage production Anya 1965

Comment and Critique

Parisian playwright Marcelle Marie Josephine Maurette’s exciting play Anastasia was first produced at the Theatre Antoine in Paris in 1951. Presented on television in England in 1953, the English translation of the play by Guy Bolton was optioned by Sir Laurence Olivier, who produced it at St. James’s Theatre in London on August 5, 1953. The play was received with acclaim for 117 performances. Seventy-nine-year-old actress Helen Hayes, who had spent fifty-five of those years on the English stage, was praised for her striking performance as the Dowager Empress, a role that became her greatest triumph in the English theatre.

The riddle, or mystery, of Anna Chaikovski, later known as Anna Anderson, has long fascinated writers and the world. After her release from Dalldorf Mental Hospital, her friend, Mrs. van Rathlef-Keilman, published a biography, Anastasia, in 1929. Glen Botkin, son of the Romanov family physician, wrote The Real Romanovs in 1931, followed by other documentations of Anna’s life.

No recounting of her story, nor her claim to being the surviving youngest daughter of the late Russian Tsar, supported her unsuccessful years of fighting for recognition (and the Romanov fortune) in the German courts. During the years of her struggle for recognition, Anna lived in a shack of a home in Stuttgart, Germany, given to her by her cousin Prince Frederick of Saxe-Altenburg. Today, the woman known as Anna Chaikovski Anderson, or Anastasia, lives in comparative seclusion as the wife of a wealthy Virginian in Charlottesville, Virginia. Anna Anderson’s personal account of her life, I, Anastasia, was published in January 1957 by Harcourt, Brace & Company.

Anastasia was written by Marcelle Maurette, whose play Madame Capet was translated into English by George Middleton and produced at the Cort Theatre in New York on October 25, 1938. Marcelle Maurette was born November 14, 1903, in Toulouse, France and in 1937 became the Comtesse de Decdelievre. Mme. Maurette received the Prix du Cercle de Paris in 1934 for La Bague au Doigt; the Cours de la Pifece en un acte de Socidtfi des Auteurs et Compositeurs for her play Printemps in 1937; France’s 1939 Prix National de Litterature and, in 1964 was made an Officier de la Legion d’Honneur Titre Exceptionnel for playwrighting. Guy Bolton’s absorbing English translation of Mme. Maurette’s play Anastasia opened at the Lyceum Theatre in New York on December 29, 1954, to play 272 performances.

Brooks Atkinson (The New York Times) wrote, “Whatever the truth may be of the Anastasia mystery, the drama about it is superb. “

Lillian Gish, Irra Petina, and Constance Towers during rehearsal for the stage production Anya 65
Lillian Gish, Irra Petina, and Constance Towers during rehearsal for the stage production Anya 65

A decade later, Anastasia was adapted and set to music of Rachmaninoff by Robert Wright and George Forrest, who had performed the same service in 1953 by converting Alexander Borodin’s music into the colorful musical Kismet. Unfortunately, despite all excellent cast, production and the Rachmaninoff themes, the musical translation of Anastasia, called Anya, expired after two weeks at Manhattan’s Ziegfeld Theatre.

Yul Brynner, Ingrid Bergman, Helen Hayes - Anastasia
Yul Brynner, Ingrid Bergman, Helen Hayes – Anastasia

Twentieth Century-Fox’s British-made screen version of Anastasia returned the supremely talented Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman to cinema acclaim after virtual isolation following the overblown and over-publicized scandal of her affair, and later marriage, with Italian film director, Roberto Rossellini. Miss Bergman’s superb performance as Anastasia was properly rewarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as 1956’s Best Actress of the Year. Films and Filming admired the “wonderfully controlled” performance of Helen Hayes as the Dowager Empress and Anatole Litvak’s smooth direction. (The Deutschen-London film Anastasia–Die Letze Zaren – tochter, released in Germany in 1956, was not based on Marcelle Maurette’s play but on historical data.) Eugenie Leontovich and Viveca Lindfors appeared on Ed Sullivan’s television program, The Toast of the Town, in the recognition scene from the play on January 23, 1955. Hallmark Hall of Fame’s March 17, 1967, telecast of the play starred Julie Harris and Lynn Fontanne and drew critical raves. Variety opined that the two actresses gave the play “the stature of a classic” and that the Hallmark production was “on the magnificent side. “


St, James’s Theatre, London, England, opened August 5, 1953. 117 performances. Produced by Laurence Olivier; Director, John Counsell; Settings, Hal Henshaw; Costumes, Michael Ellis Mary Kerridge (Anna Broun); Helen Hayes (Dowager Empress of Russia); Ralph Michael (Prince Paul); Laurence Payne (Piotr Petrovsky); Peter Illing (Boris Chernov); Anthony Ireland (Prince Bounine); Ruth Goddard (Lady-in-Waiting); Michael Godfrey (Felix Oblensky); Verena Kimmins (Antonia); Michael Malnick (Sergei); Geoffrey Tyrrell (Sleigh Driver); Susan Richards (Charwoman)

Lyceum Theatre, New York, opened December 29, 1954. 272 performances. Produced by Elaine Perry; Director, Alan Schneider; Settings, Ben Edwards Viveca Lindfors (Anna); Eugenie Leontovich (Dowager Empress of Russia); Hurd Hatfield (Prince Paul); David J. Stewart (Pe- trovin); Boris Tumarin (Boris Chernov); Joseph Anthony (Prince Bounine); Dorothy Patten (Baroness Livenbaum); Sefton Darr (Varya); William Callan (Sergei); Carl Low (Counsellor Drivinitz)- Stuart Germain (Sleigh Driver); Michael Strong (Dr. Serensky); Vivian Nathan (Charwoman)

Road Company (1955). Produced by Elaine Perry; Director, Alan Schneider; Settings, Ben Edwards Dolly Haas (Anna); Eugenie Leontovich (Dowager Empress); John Emery (Prince Bounine); Robert Duke (Prince Paul); Carl Don (Chernov); Kurt Richards (Petrovin); Stanley Pitts (Sergei); Sefton Darr (Varya); George Cotton (Counsellor Drivinitz)- John Hallow (Dr. Serensky); Lili Valenty (Baroness Livenbaum); Frances Ingalls (Charwoman); Allen Joseph (Sleigh Driver)

Kleines Theatre im Zoo, Frankfurt, Germany, opened April 30 1955 Produced and directed by Fritz Remond; Translation by Ernestine Costa; Settings, Lothar Baumgarten; Costumes, Johann Jansen Inge Langen (Anastasia); Else Heims (Dowager Empress)- Herbert W. Boehme (Prince Bounine); Thomas Vallon (Prince Paul); Christian Schneider (Petrovin); Viktor Stephan Goertz (Chernoff)- Reinhold Kalldehoff (Obelenski); Wilhelm Schmidt (Sleigh Driver)

Road Company (1956). Produced by S. M. Handelsman; Director, Albert Lipton; Settings and costumes, Charles Evans Signe Hasso (Anya); Gale Sondergaai’d (Dowager Empress)- Stiano Braggiotti (Prince Bounine); John Hallow (Prince Paul); Boris Marshalov (Chernov); Jan Kalionzes (Varya); Charles Randall (Petrovin); Ted Gunther (Sergei); Ullo Kazanova (Baroness Livenbaum); Simon Oakland (Dr. Serensky); Mervin Williams (Counsellor Drivinitz); Ludmilla Toretzka (Charwoman); Charles P. Thomp¬ son (Sleigh Driver)

Westport Country Playhouse, Westport, Conn., opened August 13, Produced by Lawrence Langner, Armina Marshall and John C. Wilson; Director, Boris Tumarin; Sets and lighting, Marvin Reiss Dolores Del Rio (Anastasia); Lili Darvas (Dowager Empress); Stephen Elliott (Bounine); Alan Shayne (Prince Paul); Boris Tumarin (Chernov); Ellen Cohn (Vanya); Paul Stevens (Petrovin); Clark Warren (Sergei); Hal Gerson (Counsellor Drivinitz); Frank Marth (Dr. Serensky); Sylvia Davis (Baroness Livenbaum); George Ebeling (Sleigh Driver); Clarice Blackburn (Charwoman)

Cambridge Theatre, London, England, opened September 22, 1976. Produced by Robert Sidaway and Mark Furness;Director, Tony Cra¬ ven; Settings, Pamela Ingram; Costumes, Hugh Durrant; Lighting, Howard Eaton Nyree Dawn Porter (Anya); Elspeth March (Dowager Empress); Peter Wyngarde (Prince Bounine); Brian Poyser (Plouvitch); Ray Gatenby (Drivinitz); Ron Alexander (Sergei); David Nettheim (Boris); Brian Poyser (Dr. Michael Serensky); John Locke (Prince Paul); Jo Anderson (Baroness Livenbaum); Jeanette Lewis (Peasant Woman); David Griffin (Piotr Petrovin)

George Abbott anya
Lillian Gish and George Abbott – Anya

ANYA, Ziegfeld Theatre, New York, opened November 29, 1965.

16 performances. Produced by Fred R. Fehlhaber; Director, George Abbott; Scenery, Robert Randolph; Costumes, Patricia Zipprodt; Lighting, Richard Casler; Dances and musical numbers, Hanya Holm; Book, (based on the play Anastasia), by George Abbott, Guy Bolton; Musical director, Harold Hastings; Orchestrations, Don Walker;

Music (based on themes by Rachmaninoff), and lyrics, Robert Wright, George Forrest

Constance Towers (Anya); Lillian Gish (Dowager Empress); John Michael King (Prince Paul); Ed Steffe (Petrovin); George S. Irving (Chernov); Michael Kermoyan (Bounine); Margaret Mullen (Baroness Livenbaum); Irra Petina (Katrina); Boris Aplon (Josef); Lawrence Brooks (Count Drivinitz); Adair McGowan (Count Dorn); Jack Dabdoub (Sergei); Walter Hook (Yegor); Karen Shepard (Genia, the Countess Hohenstadt); Laurie Franks (Olga); Rita Metzger (Masha); Lawrence Boyll (Sleigh Driver); Elizabeth Howell (Anouchka); Barbara Alexander (Tinka); Maggie Task (Mother); Michael Quinn (Father); Elizabeth Howell (Countess Drivinitz); Bernard Frank, Lawrence Boyll (Policemen); Howard Kahl (Police Sergeant); Patricia Hoffman (Nurse); Konstantin Pioulsky (Balalaika player); Barbara Alexander, Ciya Challis, Patricia Drylie, Juliette Durand, Kip Andrews, Steven Boockvor, Randy Doney, Joseph Nelson (Dancers); Laurie Franks, Patricia Hoffman, Rita Metzger, Mia Powers, Lourette Raymon, Diane Tarleton, Maggie Task, Darrel Askey, Lawrence Boyll, Les Freed, Horace Guittard, Walter Hook, Howard Kahl, Adair McGowan, Richard Nieves, J. Vernon Oaks, Robert Sharp, John Taliaferro, Bernard Frank (Singers)

1965 Press Photo Lillian Gish - Little Hands
1965 Press Photo Lillian Gish – Little Hands


Anya; A Song from Somewhere; Vodka, Vodka!; So Proud; Homeward; Snowflakes and Sweethearts; On That Day; Six Palaces; Hand in Hand; This Is My Kind of Love; That Prelude!; A Quiet Land; Here Tonight, Tomorrow Where?; Leben Sie Wohl; If This Is Goodbye; Little Hands; All Hail the Empress

Sitting Composerlyricists Robert Wright and George Forrest- Standing Lillian Gish, director George Abbott, Constance Towers, and unidentified man during rehearsal for the stage production Anya
Sitting Composerlyricists Robert Wright and George Forrest- Standing Lillian Gish, director George Abbott, Constance Towers, and unidentified man during rehearsal for the stage production Anya


20th Century-Fox, released December 14, 1956. Produced by Buddy Adler; Director, Anatole Litvak; Screenplay, Arthur Laurents; Camera, Jack Hildyard; Art directors, Andrei Andreiev, Bill Andrews; Music, Alfred Newman; Russian music arranged by Michel Michelet; Assistant director, Gerry O’Hara; Costumes, Rene Hubert; Dialogue assistant, Paul Dickson; Editor, Bert Bates; Set decorator, Andrew Low Ingrid Bergman (Anastasia); Helen Hayes (Dowager Empress); Yul Brynner (Prince Bounine); Akim Tamiroff (Chernov); Martita Hunt (Baroness von Livenbaum); Felix Aylmer (Russian Chamber- lain); Sascha Pitoeff (Petrovin); Ivan Desny (Prince Paul); Natalie Schafer (Lissenskaia); Gregoire Gromoff (Stepan); Karel Stepanek (Vlados); Ina de la Haye (Marusia); Tamara Shayne (Zenia); Peter Salles (Grischa); Olga Valery (Countess Baranova); Polycarpe Pauloft (Schiscken); Katherine Kath (Maxime); Hy Hazell (Blonde Lady)

SONG: Anastasia by Alfred Newman; Lyrics, Paul Francis Webster

Helen Hayes and Ingrid Bergman – Anastasia

ANASTASIA, DIE LETZE ZARENTOCHTER, Deutschen-London Film, released 1956. Produced by Max Koslowski; Co-producer, ALFU- Corona-Hansa; Director, Falk Harnack; Screenplay, based on historical data, by Herbert Reinecker; Camera, Friedel Behn-Grund; Settings, Fritz Naurischat, Ernest Schone, Arno Richter; Camera and lighting, Georg Mahr, Felix Lehmann; Assistant director, Fritz Martin Lang; Choreography, Tatjana Gsovsky; Music, Herbert Trantow; Editor, Kurt Zeunert Lilli Palmer (Anastasia); Ivan Desny (Gleb Botkin); Susanne von Almassy (Mrs. Stevens); Dorothea Wieck (Grand Princess Olga); Tilla Durieux (Mother of Czar Nicholas II); Margot Hielscher (Crown Princess Cecilie); Ellen Schwiers (Princess Katharina); Adelheid Seeck (Princess Irene); Franziska Kinz (Duchess of Leuchtenberg); Otto Graf (Duke of Leuchtenberg); Hans Krull (Prince of Sachsen-Altenburg); Kathe Braun (Frau von Rathleff- Keitmann); Eva Bubat (Gertrud Schanzkosky); Emmy Burg (Ple- gerin Schwarzkopf); Erika Dannihoff (Frau von Pleskau)

Julie Harris and Lynn Fontaine - Hallmark 1967
Julie Harris and Lynn Fontaine – Hallmark 1967


Hallmark Hall of Fame, televised March 17, 1967. NBC. 90 minutes. Produced and directed by George Schaefer; Television adaptation, John Edward Friend

Julie Harris (Anastasia); Lynn Fontanne (Dowager Empress);

Charles D. Gray (Prince Bounine); Brenda Forbes (Baroness von Livenbaum); George S. Irving (Chernov); David Hurst (Petrovin); Paul Robeling (Prince Paul); Robinson Stone (Drivinitz); Robert Burr (Dr. Serensky)

Anastasia Romanov - Romanov Family - Russia
Anastasia Romanov – Romanov Family – Russia

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