Gish, Lillian (1896–1993)

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Lillian Gish (1896–1993)

Nicknamed "the First Lady of the Silver Screen," Lillian Gish is still considered the best serious film actress of her time. She brought a realism to film acting that had not been seen before. Lillian appeared in many classic films, including The Birth of a Nation (see entry under 1910s—Film and Theater in volume 1) (1915) and Way Down East (1920).

Born Lillan de Guiche, Gish made her screen debut in 1912 along with her sister Dorothy (1898–1968) in An Uneasy Enemy. Both sisters would have successful film careers. Dorothy was a comedienne, whereas Lillian appeared in melodramas and in literary classics. Lillian had a far longer career and is more highly regarded today, but Dorothy actually appeared in more films. Lillian's career ended after seventy-five years when she appeared in her last film, The Whales of August, in 1987.

—Jill Gregg Clever

For More Information

Estate of Lillian Gish. Lillian Gish Official Home Page. (accessed January 15, 2002).

Gish, Lillian, and Ann Pinchot. The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me. Denver, Prentice-Hall, 1969.

"Lillian Gish." American Masters. (accessed January 15, 2002).