Vintage Style Files: Lillian Gish

Posted on June 11th in starlets, vintage, vintage style icons. No Comments

While we frequently starlets from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, this week we’re featuring one of the earliest grande dames of cinema. This week on the blog, we’re featuring Lillian Gish. For those unfamiliar with the name, Gish was an American-born actress and director. She was born in 1893 and had a career that lasted for over 75 years, due to her success in both the silent-era as well as the sound-era of film she earned the honorable nickname of The First Lady of American Cinema.

In terms of her career in acting, she made her debut in An Unseen Enemy in 1912 when she was just 19 years old. That seemed to be the kickstart she needed because in the following two years after starting her career, Gish appeared in over 25 short films and movies.  In her film Way Down East Lillian Gish played the main character Anna who endured much hardship throughout the romantic drama, but you have to admit that she did it in style.

She worked frequently with the producer D.W. Griffith who led her to directing her first film, Remodeling her Husband, however this turned out to be the only film that she directed and she returned to acting both in movies with sound as well as on the stage. She acted as Ophelia in a production of Hamlet, as well as in the French production La Dame aux Camélias, or better known as Camille on the American stage.  Another classic dramatic love story in which Gish plays the main character, she portrays a woman suffering from tuberculosis who falls in love with a man her family tries to keep her apart from.

She went back to the silver screen and television appearing in countless films and shows throughout the years. The last film she appear in was The Whales of August in 1987 when she was 93 years old! She was the recipient of a Special Academy Award as well as an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award, and of course has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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