The Gish Sisters: Dorothy and Lillian

 

Sisters Dorothy Gish and Lillian Gish were American stage, screen, and television actresses.

 

Lillian and Dorothy Gish in the silent film "Orphans Of The Storm" (1921)

Lillian and Dorothy Gish in the silent film “Orphans Of The Storm” (1921)

 

Lillian Diana Gish, born Oct. 14, 1893, was the more prominent star of the two and was one of America’s best loved actresses during the 1910’s and 20’s. Lillian’s acting career spanned 75 years, from 1912 to 1987. The longevity of her career earned her the nickname “The First Lady of American Cinema”. The American Film Institute (AFI) named Lillian Gish 17th among the greatest female stars of all time. She was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 1971, and in 1984 she received an AFI Life Achievement Award.

 

Lillian and Dorothy Gish in the silent film "Orphans Of The Storm" (1921)

Lillian and Dorothy Gish in the silent film “Orphans Of The Storm” (1921)

 

Dorothy Elizabeth Gish, born March 11, 1898, would go on to star in over 100 short films and features herself, many of them with Lillian. For her contribution as an actress in motion pictures, Dorothy Gish was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, California.

 

Dorothy and Lillian Gish with D.W. Griffith, 1922.

Dorothy and Lillian Gish with D.W. Griffith, 1922.

 

When the sisters were young  their father left the family before they old enough to remember him. Their mother then took up acting to support the family. When Lillian and Dorothy were old enough, they joined the theatre, often traveling separately in different productions. They also took modeling jobs. In 1912, their friend Mary Pickford introduced the sisters to D. W. Griffith, and helped get them contracts with Biograph Studios. The sisters debuted together in Griffith’s short film “An Unseen Enemy” (1912). The sisters maintained a very close relationship with each other throughout their life, as well as with Mary Pickford.

 

Lillian and Dorothy Gish

Lillian and Dorothy Gish

 

Dorothy Gish died in 1968 from bronchial pneumonia at the age of 70 at a clinic in Rapallo, Italy where she had been a patient for two years, with sister Lillian at her side. Dorothy Gish was entombed in Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City in the columbarium in the undercroft of the church. Lillian Gish died in her sleep of natural causes on February 27, 1993, aged 99 and is interred beside her sister Dorothy at Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City.

 

The Gish sisters with Richard Barthelmess.

The Gish sisters with Richard Barthelmess.

 

Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish

Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish

 

Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish huddle in the cold, April, 1964

Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish huddle in the cold, April, 1964

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2 Responses to “The Gish Sisters: Dorothy and Lillian”

  1. […] Dorothy Gish was born on March 11, 1898 in Massillon, Ohio. She is the younger sister of Lillian Gish. Dorothy Gish’s mother, Mary Gish, went into acting to support the family when the sister’s father left them when they were very young. When they were old enough they joined their mother on stage and did some modeling. In 1912, Mary Pickford, who was a childhood friend, introduced the sisters to director D.W. Griffith. Griffith was impressed with the sisters and they began acting at Biograph Studios. Dorothy and Lillian Gish both debuted in the same movie, Griffith’s An Unseen Enemy (1912). Dorothy went on to star in over 100 films, many of them with her sister. In 1928 Dorothy retired from the screen, except for a couple occasional small roles, but she went on to enjoy a long and lucrative career on the stage. […]

  2. […] “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t acting, so I can’t imagine what I would do if I stopped now.” ~ Lillian Gish […]

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