Dorothy Gish

Active - 1912 - 1963  |   Born - Mar 11, 1898   |   Died - Jun 4, 1968   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance

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Biography by Jason Ankeny

The less-celebrated younger sister of the famed Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish was also a pioneer of the silent screen through her work under director D.W. Griffith. Born Dorothy de Guiche in Massillon, OH, on March 11, 1898, she was the youngest daughter of actress Mary Gish and with her sister began acting onstage at the age of four. The family soon relocated to New York, where in short time the girls were the family breadwinners. Among their colleagues was another child actress, Mary Pickford, who in 1909 traveled west to Hollywood to pursue a career in the movies. She found work with the famed Griffith, and soon persuaded him to recruit the Gish sisters for his Biograph Studios' repertory company of actors. Dorothy and Lillian debuted together in 1912's An Unseen Enemy and over the next several years appeared both together and independently in dozens of the director's one- and two-reelers.

While overshadowed by Lillian's fame, Dorothy was among the Griffith stable's finest actresses, skilled both in pantomime and light comedy. Among her most memorable performances for the director were turns in 1914's Judith of Bethulia, 1918's Hearts of the World, and 1922's Orphans of the Storm. Gish also appeared in a number of Elmer Clifton comedies, and in 1920 even starred in Dorothy's directorial debut Remodeling Her Husband. The 1927 Herbert Wilcox drama Madame Pompadour was her final film appearance during the silent era; she did not reappear onscreen before 1930's Wolves, and then gave up motion pictures for more than a decade to concentrate on the stage. Gish returned to cinemas in the 1944 romantic comedy Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, followed two years later by Centennial Summer. Another long hiatus followed before she co-starred in the 1951 Robert Siodmak docudrama The Whistle at Eaton Falls. A cameo in the 1963 Otto Preminger film The Cardinal was Gish's final screen appearance; she died in Rapallo, Italy, on June 4, 1968.

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