About The Dorothy Gish Project


Dorothy Gish circa 1919
Dorothy Gish circa 1919

Working Title:
In Lillian’s Shadow: The Life and Career of Dorothy Gish.

Researching the life and career of silent film star Dorothy Elizabeth Gish.  She was one of the most popular film actresses of her age.  After the advent of sound, she made the decision to return to the stage.  She continued her long and successful stage career for the next four decades.  Her career has been overlooked and her life story is shrouded in mystery.

The author is seeking:

  • information
  • personal recollections
  • letters
  • documents
  • any ephemera on the life and career of Dorothy Gish

The goal of rediscovering Dorothy Gish, after my work on Rudolph Valentino, I think I can really sink my teeth into this project. This will be a journey of discovery in every sense of the word to find out who she was and what made her tick. Literally, this is going to bring Dorothy to the forefront, out from behind Lillian Gish’s long shadow.

Dorothy was a little less famous than her more ambitious sister Lillian, especially today.  Dorothy seemed to be a little more adventurous and also a little less ambitious than her elder sibling . To her own credit, Lillian always made a point noting Dorothy was the more talented actor in the family. Lillian, of course, knew her place in cinema history and kept to her own script.

In speaking with theatre historian and author Miles Krueger, he said to me the instant her name came up “She was a real live wire!”  He said this with the brightest smile and dancing light in his eyes.  It was a recollection of unbridled joy. How can you not be intrigued by that?  This is one facet of Dorothy I hope to uncover, her real self and her boundless humor.

The journey will not only be a virtual time travel back to find Dorothy and her extant films, it’s going to be a literal journey and I will be wading through paper and scrapbooks more than knee deep.  It is not going to be easy to review the appeal of Dorothy on screen since so many of her films are lost. That said, there are some good films out there awaiting rediscovery.

I’ve already had some generous and wonderful help with some leads and preliminary material.  The list of acknowledgments is already growing and the process has barely begun.