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Dorothy Gish, younger sister of actress Lillian Gish, was a film actress in the first half of the 20th century.
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Dorothy made her last film with Lillian, Romola, in 1924.
After the film industry converted to talking pictures, Gish transitioned back to the stage. By this time, she was an enormous star and her performances drew large, eager crowds. Notable stage performances include 1928's Young Love, directed by George Cukor.
For much of the 1930s and '40s, Gish focused primarily on stage work. She and her husband divorced in 1935.
Gish returned to film in 1944 with a supporting role in Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. Two years later, she appeared in Centennial Summer. But for Gish, the "talkies" held little appeal. She starred on Broadway as painter Mary Surratt in 1947's The Story of Mary Surratt, and in 1950, she made her final Broadway appearance in The Man.
The following year, Gish returned to the screen in The Whistle at Eaton Falls, starring Lloyd Bridges. In an interview with The New York Times, she discussed how much filmmaking had changed since her heyday: "Films have become easier work since I was last here," she said. "In the old days, an actress did her own makeup and hair, prepared her costumes, and sometimes worked 15 and 16 hours a day." Gish worked with director Otto Preminger on her last film, The Cardinal (1963).
Dorothy Gish spent her final years at a clinic in Italy, according to a New York Times report. Her sister was with her when she died of bronchial pneumonia on June 4, 1968, in Rapallo, Liguria, Italy. Years later, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Film Theater and Gallery was established on the campus of Bowling Green State University, honoring the work of two of film's great early stars.
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In the early years of motion pictures, actors were recruited from the stage, resulting in larger-than-life performances that seemed jarring when blown up to the size of a movie screen. As the years went on, actors began to understand the subtleties of the medium, and used more natural expressions to connect with their audiences. They became movie stars, known for their glamorous looks and identifiable personalities. As Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard would say, they didn't need dialogue, they had faces.
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