Miss Gish’s career started on the stage when she was just six years old. She had a very successful stage career before she found herself making films. She would have a second stage career beginning in the late 1920′s where she was well received by critics and the public.
In 1912 she met D.W. Griffith. Her first film was the Griffith directed The Unseen Enemy. She played the older of two orphaned sisters. The younger sister was played by her real life sister, Dorothy Gish. In 1912 alone she would appear in 12 films for Griffith. By 1915 she had become one of the top stars in the industry and was the star for two of Griffith’s most ambitious projects, The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance.
Miss Gish, from the beginning of ‘sound’ movies until her last film appearance in The Whales of August released in 1987, would appear in many films. Her appearances were always of quality but would be irregular, with long gaps between appearances.
She would receive only one Academy Awards nomination. Her major work was prior to their first ceremony. That nomination came in 1946 for Actress in a Supporting Role in Duel in the Sun. She lost to Anne Baxter in The Razor’s Edge. She would receive a Honorary Award in 1970.
On June 11, 1976, Bowling Green University dedicated The Gish Film Theater and Gallery. Lillian Gish accepted the honor in person for herself and her sister. Bowling Green University is in Ohio near where the two sisters were born. Lillian Gish received on the next day the honorary degree of Doctor of Performing Arts. Upon her death items from her estate were set to the University, where they are on display.
Originally published at 6 Things to Consider.