LILLIAN GISH WINS HER SUIT (Santa Cruz Evening News, 1928)

  • Santa Cruz Evening News, Volume 41, Number 150, 25 April 1928

LOS ANGELES, April 25. (AP) Several years of legal effort by Charles Duell, motion picture producer to exact damages from Lillian Gish has come to naught today. A jury in superior court here returned a verdict for the film star, defendant, yesterday, after the court had decided that all the issues of the case had been settled previously in the federal courts of New York. “Oh what a relief,” Miss Gish said when she learned that the $5,000,000 suit her one time employer had brought against her had been decided again in her favor. “I am very happy.”

When questioned about the injunction proceedings brought by Charles H. Duell, Jr.’s personal company against Miss Lillian Gish, the latter’s attorney, Messrs. Chadbourne, Stanchfield and Levy said, “This latest move is part of a design to force Miss Gish to support Mr. Duell. The experiences of Richard Barthelmess and Henry King are only repeated in Miss Gish’s experience with Mr. Duell. Each of these outstanding artists has found it impossible to live under his business arrangements. Miss Gish’s situation discloses, in our opinion, the worst condition of the three.”

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Lillian Gish Eschews Carrots in Federal Court (Santa Cruz Evening News, 1925)

  • Santa Cruz Evening News, Volume 35, Number 123, 26 March 1925
  • Lillian Gish Eschews Carrots in Federal Court

NEW YORK, March 26. George W. Newgass, once personal attorney of Lillian Gish, motion picture actress, had an uncomfortable time of it in Judge Mack’s court yesterday, under the sarcastic, rapid-fire cross examination of Max Steuer, representing Miss Gish, who is seeking to have her contract with Charles H. Duell, motion picture producer, annulled. Newgass was Miss Gish’s attorney from 1920 until last September. On the stand he insinuated that Miss Gish was a film star only when under the direction of a master mind, and that any other grade of producer would be taking chances with her. Recalled at the request of Steuer, Newgass found himself unable to answer many of Steuer’s questions. He displayed a loss of memory regarding dates, figures and other things about which he was questioned. Steuer finally lost patience with him and openly charged him with evading the questions. Judge Mack took a hand at this juncture and began repeating Sleuer’s questions. Miss Gish, who had been bored at the beginning of the hearing, began to take notice and as her former attorney became more and more discomfited she smiled, first sweetly, and then laughed until tears ran. down her face. Steuer forced Newgass to admit that while he had been working for Miss Gish he had actually been on the payroll as Duell’s lawyer, he also admitted that he had not advised Miss Gish to the importance of her contract with Duell.

Lillian Gish and her lawyer Max Steuer – the Duell trial in 1925

NEW YORK, March 26. – Lillian Gish did not munch carrots in federal court today. The film actress disappointed a throng of stenographers who jammed the tiny courtroom in which the suit of Charles H. Duell, motion picture producer, seeking to restrain Miss Gish from making pictures for others is being heard. Taking advantage of a lull in the proceedings, however, Miss Gish explained to newspaper men that she chewed carrots because of their value as “food for the complexion” and to allay her nervousness in the courtroom.

Lillian Gish and The Carrot syndrome 1925

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Gossip of all the Studios – By Cal York (Photoplay – 1929)

  • Photoplay – November 1929
  • Gossip of all the Studios – By Cal York

LILLIAN GISH is back in New York after a long stay abroad, waiting to make “The Swan.” She’s living at a quiet little hotel on a side street—going to the theater now and again with George Jean Nathan, who seems as devoted as ever.

Lillian Gish

Oddly enough, she came back on the same ship with her former boss, Charles H. Duell, who sues her for millions every now and then, and spent most of the trip avoiding him, to hear her tell it. Her mother, Mrs. May Gish, is in London, carefully tended by Sister Dorothy.

Dorothy Gish – Nell Gwyn

Mrs. Gish’s health is a little improved. She’s been an invalid now for some years, you remember.

DOROTHY, by the way, has had a successful voice test made in England and will appear in a British talkie, “Wolves.”

Funny, but Dorothy has her best luck in England. She made her best picture, “Nell Gwyn,” over there, and the British public adores her. A few months ago Dorothy told me that she was afraid to have a voice test made, in spite of her success on the stage. But she doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything in London!

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Tragedy and misfortune for Griffith Stars – By Marquis Busby (Photoplay – November 1929)

Photoplay – November 1929

The Other Side of the Story – By Marquis Busby

Tragedy and misfortune have stalked many who “Got their chance with Griffith”

WHEN a movie star kneels down in his little nightie and offers up a prayer he says—”Please let me do a picture with Griffith. Amen.” Ever since “The Birth of a Nation” these fervent prayers have been wafted skyward.

All actors were firm in the belief that David Wark Griffith, THE Great Griffith, THE Master Director, would get the utmost from them—more than any other director could achieve. It was, and is, true. Popular favorites of the screen have offered to work for nothing in his pictures just to gain the advantage of his training. Griffith stars were the most envied people on the screen. It meant much to be hailed as a Griffith “discovery.” It was almost an assurance of success. To appear in a Griffith picture meant as much as to appear in a Belasco play. Actors who played extra roles in “Intolerance” boasted of being Griffith “discoveries.”

Mae Marsh 1919

There are about as many people in Hollywood today who will tell you impressively that they were with Griffith as there are descendants of “Mayflower” Pilgrims in the United States. Griffith was a man of magic. He had the rare quality of revealing the souls of his people.

His heroines were delicate, fluttering girls, helpless and virtuous. His heroes were noble and pure, and poetic looking. Other directors did not want fluttering girls, and too poetic men. And usually, unfortunately for the players, Griffith’s stamp was indelible.

Carol Dempster – The Love Flower

TRAGEDY has dogged the footsteps of Mae Marsh, Blanche Sweet, Carol Dempster, Eric von Stroheim, George Walsh, Mildred Harris, Henry B. Walthall, Miriam Cooper, Dorothy Gish and Winifred Westover. Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess have been more successful, but their success has not been without the attendant hand-maidens, trial and unhappiness. Not many are left on the screen today from the marvelous “The Birth of a Nation” cast. Nor are there many from “Intolerance,” “Hearts of the World” and “Way Down East.” Wallace Reid achieved a vogue that no other male star has held, with the single exception of Valentino. Yet big, handsome Wally, who attracted so much attention as the heroic blacksmith in “The Birth of a Nation,” died a tragic death at the height of his career, a victim of his own weakness.

Wallace Reid signed

George Seigmann, the hated villain, Gus, in “The Birth of a Nation,” died while still a young man.

STRANGELY enough, one of the last appearances made by Gladys Brockwell was in a picture wherein she died. It was the tragic end of a tragic career. After her thorough Griffith training, and a brief period of fame as a vamp, Gladys almost dropped from sight.

Gladys Brockwell by Fred Hartsook

Talking pictures brought her back. A new and greater career was at hand, but fate willed differently. She died following a dreadful automobile accident on busy Ventura Boulevard.

Lillian Gish – The White Sister

Lillian Gish, the greatest of the Griffith stars, had a difficult time coming back in other hands. The fragile Duse of the cinema might never have returned but for her wonderful performance in “The White Sister,” made in Europe. Even her later pictures at M-G-M were not great box office attractions. Some of the old spark had gone, and a helpless, fluttering heroine in this modern day of flappers seemed quaint and incongruous. Lillian is the enigma of the screen. Even now she may return and reveal herself again as the superb Griffith star of the past.

Dorothy as “The Little Disturber”

Dorothy Gish has never been an unqualified success away from Griffith’s guiding hand. Even there she was somewhat overshadowed by her sister, Lillian. For several years she has made pictures abroad. The few efforts to reach America were received coldly. Yet, who will forget The Little Disturber in “Hearts of the World”?

Henry B. Walthall

IF Henry B. Walthall had retained his health he might have been greater than John Gilbert. The Little Colonel of ” The Birth of a Nation” was a dark-eyed romantic fellow, and a marvelous actor. Yet there were many years of illness. He appeared old and ill. He was forced to play character parts, when he should have been cast as dashing heroes. He is still very much in demand for these character parts, but he has been cheated out of his rightful destiny.

Fine Arts – Griffith Stars Back Row: Dorothy Gish, Seena Owen, Norma Talmadge Middle Row: Robert Harron, Harry Aitken (producer), Sir Beerbohm-Tree, Owen Moore, Wilfred Lucas Front Row: Douglas Fairbanks, Bessie Love, Constance Talmadge, Constance Collier, Lillian Gish (Marfa in Sold For Marriage), Fay Tincher, DeWolfe Hopper Photograph – Raymond Lee of Roy George Association

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Lillian Gish Reappearing as Molnar’s ‘Swan’ – By Mae Tinee (Chicago Tribune – 1930)

  • Chicago Tribune – Saturday May 17, 1930 – Page 11
  • Lillian Gish Reappearing as Molnar’s ‘Swan’
  • Play Loses Something as an Altalker


  • Produced by United Artists
  • Directed by Paul L. Stein
  • Presented at United Artists’ theater
One Romantic Night – The Swan

The Cast:

  • Alexandra …………………… Lillian Gish
  • Prince Albert ……….…. Rod La Rocque
  • Dr. Nicholas Haller ….. Conrad Nagel
  • Princess Beatrice …… Marie Dressler
  • Father Benedict ……….… O.P. Heggie
  • Count Lutzen ……….……. Albert Conti
  • Col. Wunderlich ……… Edgar Norton
  • Symphrosa …………..…. Billie Bennett
  • George ………………. Philippe De Lacy
  • Arsene ……………………….. Byron Sage
  • Mitzi ………………….. Barbara Leonard

By Mae Tinee

One Romantic Night – The Swan

The little lady who silently became famous in days when D.W. Griffith was king (of directors), comes to her first talker a different Lillian Gish. As Alexandra in “One Romantic Night,” adaptation of the Molnar play “The Swan,” she has nary a hop, skip or wiggle to bless herself with. That pleases you. BUT neither does anybody beat her, scare her out of her wits, nor starve her – and that is not so good, for it is in the depiction of stark, stare, gibbering terror that Miss Gish is at her best. Let all the world forsake her and she becomes an actress to reckon with. Minus the hops, skips, and wiggles, and the big, mean men, she appears rather at sea. She manages her entrances and exits nicely because she’s been brought up that way, but to me her performance was utterly futile. Her voice? Pleasant.

Lillian Gish and O.P. Heggie – One Romantic Night – The Swan

With the exception of O.P. Heggie as Father Benedict, Albert Conti as Count Lutzen, and Philippe De Lacy and Byron Sage, playing small brothers of the heroine, the picture has not been happily cast.

One Romantic Night – The Swan

Rod La Rocque is princely as to uniform , but his manner and delivery are reminiscent of a soda jerker.

One Romantic Night – The Swan

Marie Dressler as mother of “The Swan” has a hard time keeping her dignity and sometimes doesn’t. You feel she is keenly missing Polly Moran and that the latter may pop out at any moment from behind a noble portiere and hit her with an umbrella.

Conrad Nagel and Lillian Gisn in “One Romantic Night”

Conrad Nagel as the tutor is a fair and manly flower and that is all.

Thus cast and lacking inspired direction, the delicate point of the original satire is dulled, and beauty of scenery and settings, excellence of photography, and lines that know their way about cannot give to “One Romantic Night” what has been taken away from “The Swan.”

The action occurs in the long, long ago when the parents of young princess and princesses mapped out their marriages for them. So here you see and elderly princess endeavoring to keep the family going by marrying her fair daughter Alexandra, fondly called “The Swan” by her late father, to the heir of a throne.

Lillian Gish – Promotional photo for “The Swan”

The little princess is willing; the prince isn’t till Alexandra, at her mamma’s behest, is coy with her brothers’ tutor, who worships her. Then – well, the Viennese Molnar knew so well how to deal with this situation!

Personally I couldn’t get at all heat up about “One Romantic Night.” And the title on a Gish number isn’t going to fool the sidewalk crowds, for they know their Lillian.

One Romantic Night – United Artists

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Baby Camille of Lillian Gish Arouses Critic – By Burns Mantle (Chicago Tribune – 1932)

  • Chicago Tribune – Sunday November 13, 1932 – Page 51
  • Baby Camille of Lillian Gish Arouses Critic

Too Ethereal for New York

By Burns Mantle

New York – Special – The Lillian Gish “Camille” which has been brought down from the Colorado mountains by the Delos Chappels to show these dull easterners what Dumas really had in mind when, eighty years ago, he wrote the story of Marguerite Gautier and titled it “The Lady of the Camellias” – the Lillian Gish “Camille” is at least 99 per cent pure and floats more successfully than any of them. Of course, if Lillian is right and Robert Edmond Jones is right in his direction of her, then it must follow that fifty million Frenchmen have been wrong for eighty years at least. For nothing so etherealized in the way of Camilles has ever been exhibited on any stage in any country since the play became an emotional actress favorite bronchial and abdominal exercise.

Laura Gilpin (1891-1979); Camille–Gish, Lillian, [And] Raymond Hackett [Made at Chappell Home, Denver]; 1932; Platinum print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Ft Worth, Texas, Bequest of the Artist; P1979.140.193

It is Mr. Jones’ contention that Dumas, in fact has literally been this wrong. His heroine, says Robert, though “one of the most famous of all Parisian courtesans, who died and was deeply mourned at the age of 24, was no middle-aged sophisticate, taking quick profit of her life. Instead, she was a young girl who, governed solely by her great heart, rose at last to spiritual heights which have immortalized her.”

Well, there is agreement on a few points. Marguerite was a courtesan, and she was 24. She had had numerous lovers. She had lived hectically. Her pleasant dissipations had undermined her health and she was, it is fair to assume, at least a 24 year old sophisticate.

Camille Cast with R.E. Jones and Lillian Gish in Chappel Garden by Laura Gilpin Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas 1932

A Book and a Play are keeping Lillian Gish for the Public Eye – By Karen Hollis (Picture Play 1933)

“It isn’t the Paris courtesan that she is playing. What she really is playing is Marguerite’s pathos itself, the sadness of the irrevocable of all those memories evoked by the yellowed lace of old hall dresses, by pressed roses found in a book, by the tinkle of dance music played on a harpsichord; the tragedy of fleeting beauty, of love lost, of fragile youth so soon to yield to death.” (Arthur Ruhl)

Laura Gilpin (1891-1979); Lillian Gish as Camille. Central City, Colorado; 1932; Gelatin silver print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Ft Worth, Texas; Bequest of the Artist; P1979.140.309

BROADWAYITES have finally had an opportunity to see Lillian Gish as Camille, and she is assured a place in arguments about illusion in the theater for years to come. Not every one approved her delineation of the role, but every one found some evanescent magic in it. There were harsh words said about her playing the fabulous courtesan as a chaste spinster. There was some confusion over the play being presented in the manner of fifty years ago with quaint lighting, soliloquies, and exrated posturings.

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Retain the name of The Gish Theater! Please sign the petition!

Follow this link to sign the petition

I strongly oppose the effort to rename Bowling Green State University’s Gish Film Theater honoring two talented native Ohioans, Lillian and Dorothy Gish.  Recently a similar petition was taken to the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. The Gish sisters made distinguished, unmatched contributions to the performing arts, including motion pictures, stage, radio, and television. The removal of the name of the Gish Film Theater would be a sad, ignorant, misinformed waste and an insult to these great women’s legacy. There are campus activists at BGSU who want the Gish Theater name removed because of Lillian Gish’s role in the controversial D.W.Griffith film, “The Birth of a Nation.” Miss Gish was not a producer, writer, or director  and therefore had no role in its content.  She was a twenty-one year old actress fulfilling her contractual obligations.

Regarded as THE PREMIER SILENT FILM ACTRESS, Lillian’s oeuvre encompasses roles that are anti-racist and pro-feminist including such classics as “Broken Blossoms” and “Way Down East,” while Dorothy, who was one of the silent screen’s most popular actresses and did not appear in The Birth of a Nation, had a significant part in the anti-Klan film, “The Cardinal.” To remove these sisters’ names from the theater would be a blow to artistic expression and would not further the cause of racial justice and women’s contributions in film.To blacklist a performing artist simply for appearing in one film or play, as in the disrespectful phrase, “Ditch the Gish,” is outrageous, narrow-minded and sexist. It is clearly an embarrassment to the establishment from which it came, and the decision-makers should be cognizant of that, as well as Lillian Gish’s great legacy and trail-blazer as a successful woman in film who transitioned beautifully from the ‘silents’ to the ‘talkies.’ She was, and always will be, a fine example and credit to the film industry.

Instead of renouncing the well-deserved honor bestowed on these two great actresses with the establishment of the Gish Film Theater in 1976 there should be a ‘re-awakening’ celebration of the Gish sisters’ achievements instead, which could be accompanied by lectures on these women by well-known film historians and the showing of such anti-racist and pro-feminist movie classics as “The Cardinal,””Broken Blossoms” and “Way Down East.” This could have such a beneficial ripple affect on the entire campus, even beyond the Film, Drama, and Women Studies Departments, which it would directly benefit. Retaining the name of the Gish Theater would also increase Bowling Green University’s respect and admiration as an institution, world-wide.

Ralph Wolfe and Eva Marie Saint Return to Bowling Green Fall 1976
Ralph Wolfe and Eva Marie Saint Return to Bowling Green – Fall 1976

I had the privilege of meeting Lillian Gish when I was a graduate student in painting at Bowling Green State University on October 14, 1979. It was her 80th birthday and she gave a warm, articulate lecture on “Way Down East” at the Gish Theater, a silent film in which she played the heroine.  Afterwards I asked if I could take her picture for my sister, Jane Gaines, now a published film historian who teaches at Columbia University.  She put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Let’s have a picture taken of the two of us for your sister. I had a sister once, and I miss her very much!”

These kind women’s legacy in film needs to be REMEMBERED and HONORED at Bowling Green State University and in their state of Ohio and the rest of the world, NOT ERASED!

Anne Gaines and Lillian Gish 1979

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The Gish Film Theater Hanna Hall - View from the projection room
The Gish Film Theater Hanna Hall – View from the projection room

Reasons For Signing The Petition for retaining the name of The Gish Theater


“DITCH THE GISH” – Strategy

The Gish Theater Saga


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The REAL African people, members of Lillian Gish – Fan group

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

After “The Birth of A Nation” was released and criticized as being racist, D.W. Griffith was very hurt. He decided to make Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916) as a follow-up, to show how damaging and dangerous people’s intolerance can be.

Years later, this same Babylon set was replicated as the central courtyard design for the new Hollywood & Highland complex in Hollywood, which opened in 2001. Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.

The release of “The Birth” inspired many African-Americans to start making their own films in an attempt to counter this film’s depiction of them and to offer positive alternative images and stories of the African-American people.

Hollywood & Highland complex - Griffith's Babylon set replica
Hollywood & Highland complex – Griffith’s Babylon set replica

 D.W. Griffith had previously produced and directed Biograph’s The Rose of Kentucky (1911), which showed the Ku Klux Klan as villainous – a sharp contrast to “The Birth of A Nation”, made four years later, in which the KKK was portrayed in a favorable light.

The Rose of Kentucky – International Movie Database

The Rose of Kentucky - 1911
The Rose of Kentucky – 1911 – still frame

That fact proves that films were even then part of entertainment industry, nothing more than a business. Nothing like today, when the hate is to thick, one can almost feel it like a disturbing presence. Racist issues never ceased and with catalists like BSU, never will.

The BGSU website - Gish Theater description

Black Student Union on Twitter - Hashtag - DITCH THE GISH
Black Student Union on Twitter – Hashtag – DITCH THE GISH, upper left corner a logo (fist combined with the map of Africa, colors Red-Green-Yellow)

They don’t care. Her other achievements mean nothing to them. They are so focused on one movie. It makes me so sad. I agree about the hashtag “ditch the gish”. It does diminish their credibility. I was at the open forum and we were greatly outnumbered. The majority of the students were polite. The notice on the theater itself all but accuses Dorothy and Lillian of being racists. That makes me angry too. (Barbara Carr – Oregon)

The Birth is on sale again on all major online sites (Amazon, Ebay), that’s because , as it happens it was restored to full HD.

Birth of A Nation for sale online
Birth of A Nation for sale online

Also I wish to mention that on the other LILLIAN GISH group I have constantly requests for membership from Sudan, Ghana, Somalia, the REAL African citizens who are enjoying Lillian’s silent films because (She was right) those movies are interpreted in universal language of “dancing emotions”. But this fact is not in her favour either – I suppose. I have marked all Gish Theater articles as offensive, #spoiler and small group interest. All this chain of actions (part mentioned above) leads to one conclusion: Bottom line; all is part of a carefully elaborate plan that is deploying it’s final disgusting phases as I’m editing this text.

LILLIAN GISH Fan Group Members composed of African People
LILLIAN GISH Fan Group Members composed of African People and many other nationalities

African People - membership requests
African People – membership requests (approved)

The Gish Theater Saga

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Students attending to Black Issues Conference - Gish Theater
Students attending to Black Issues Conference – Gish Theater

The Gish Film Theater Saga


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