Born March 11, 1898, in Dayton, Ohio. Without a father
around, Lillian and Dorothy Gish's mother had the two girls on
stage at a very early age. The girls and their mother lived a
less than glamorous life in seedy hotels and on trains between
engagements, but did took whatever roles they could to survive.
At one point, Mrs. Gish opened a confectionery shop in East St.
Louis, but a fire destroyed it, and she had no insurance. However,
virtually all of the Gish girls' youth was spent in the theatre
until 1912 when they decided to go visit the studio where their
good friend from the theatre, Gladys Smith, known as Mary Pickford
on the screen, was working. The girls visited the Biograph studio
on East 14th Street in New York and were introduced to D.W. Griffith.
He immediately put them to work, and their first starring role
was in a two-reel drama entitled "The Unseen Enemy"
(1912). The Gish sisters became a mainstay of Griffith's stock
company appearing in dozens of shorts. Of course, Dorothy and
Lillian were included in Griffith's first attempts at feature
length films such as "Judith
of Bethulia" (1914) and "Home, Sweet Home"
(1914) but was not used in his epic "The Birth of a Nation"
(1915). However, her role as the "Little Disturber"
in Griffith's "Hearts
of the World" (1918) brought her recognition such as
she had never experienced before. Realizing her comedic talent,
Paramount signed her to a contract, and she made 14 films for
the company over the next four years. One of these was "Remodeling
Her Husband" (1920) which co-starred her husband-to-be that
she married that same year, James Rennie, and was the only film
ever directed by Lillian. Sadly, the film is lost today. Dorothy
co-starred twice more with her sister in "Orphans of the
Storm" (1921) and "Romola" (1924) turning in superb
performances in both. In all, Dorothy made 17 films from 1920
to 1929, one of the most popular of which was the English made
"Nell Gwynne" (1926) which showed she could be alluring,
as well. After a 1930 talkie entitled "Wolves," Dorothy
and Lillian spent virtually all of their time in very successful
careers on the stage. Dorothy even did some radio work during
this time. She returned to the big screen again in 1944 in "Our
Hearts Were Young and Gay," then three more appearances -
"Centennial Summer" (1946), "Whistle at Eaton Falls"
(1951) and "The Cardinal" (1963). Dorothy was not in
good health during the sixties and finally passed away at her
home in Italy June 4, 1968.
Selected films of this star available for viewing:
of Bethulia (1914)
Hearts of the
Orphans of the Storm (1921)
Nell Gwynne (1926)
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