Lillian Gish papers, 1909-1992

Collection Data

The Lillian Gish papers (75 lf.) span the years 1909-1992 and consist of correspondence including letters from friends, family, fans and business associates, personal papers, business, legal and financial documents, scripts, writings, photographs including early D.W. Griffith silent film photographs both candid shots taken during shooting and film stills, portraits by famous photographers, personal and family photographs, publicity and production photographs and snapshots, scrapbooks on the careers of both Dorothy and Lillian Gish, programs for early silent films and theatrical productions, clippings and ephemera that document the life and career of Lillian and Dorothy Gish from the early 1900's until Lillian's death in 1993.
Gish, Lillian, 1893-1993 (Creator)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1909 - 1992
Library locations
Billy Rose Theatre Division
Shelf locator: *T-Mss 1996-011
Gish, Lillian, 1893-1993
Gish, Dorothy
Biographical/historical: In 1968, she suffered a personal blow when her sister Dorothy, with whom she was extremely close throughout her life, died. From time to time, she returned to the moviesand also appeared on television from the 1950s to the 1970s, making her final appearance on screen in the movie THE WHALES OF AUGUST in 1987. In 1970, she was awarded a special Oscar for her lifetime contributions to motion pictures. Lillian Gish died in 1993 in her hundredth year. She recorded the account of her life in LIFE AND LILLIAN GISH (1932), THE MOVIES, MR. GRIFFITH AND ME (1969) and DOROTHY AND LILLIAN GISH (1973).
Biographical/historical: Lilllian Gish, legendary star of the silent film era, wasborn in Springfield, Ohio in 1893. Although best known as one of the earliest stars of the nascent film industry,Lillian Gish began as a child trouper on the stage with her sister Dorothy and their mother. At the age of five, she made her first appearance in a melodrama IN CONVICT STRIPES. A chance meeting in 1912 with another child actress Gladys Smith, who became world renowned as Mary Pickford, brought her and Dorothy to the attention of D. W. Griffith, a pioneering director in silent film days. She soon became his leading star, achieving stardom in hisproductions of BIRTH OF A NATION (1915), INTOLERANCE (1916), and most notably in ORPHANS OF THE STORM (1922), playing opposite her sister Dorothy. She was the perfect Griffith heroine, revealing a strong will and intelligenceunder a fragile, almost ethereal exterior.
Biographical/historical: She parted company with Griffith over a salary dispute, later joining MGM in 1925. One of the few stars to have control over story and director, Gish made only two successful movies at MGM, LA BOHEME and THE SCARLET LETTER. Overshadowed by the rising prominence of Greta Garbo, she left MGM and made a few films as an independent. She then decided to return to the Broadway stage and found the right vehicle in director Jed Harris'sproduction of UNCLE VANYA in 1930. Her success in the play led to other starring roles, among them Ophelia opposite John Gielgud in the 1936 production of HAMLET. Thereafter, she never lacked for roles on Broadway and worked steadily as a stage actress until 1973.
Physical Description
Extent: 75 linear feet (119 boxes; 33 scrapbooks; 10 reels microfilm)
Type of Resource
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b14558226
MSS Unit ID: 21463
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): ab2436f0-c6b8-012f-dd91-58d385a7bc34
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