Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Ohio Moments

Massillon actress made more than 75 movies

On June 4, 1968, actress Dorothy Gish - a Massillon, Ohio, native - died in Rapallo, Italy. She was the daughter of James Lee Gish, a grocery-store clerk from Springfield, Ohio, and actress Mary Robinson McConnell of Urbana, Ohio. She was the granddaughter of Ohio Sen. Samuel Robinson.

Dorothy and her older sister, Lillian, who was born in Springfield, became stage actresses at about 4 or 5 years old.

In the early 1900s, James Gish died, leaving his family destitute. Mary went to work managing a candy store in Springfield. When she had saved enough for fare to New York, she packed up the girls and joined a stock company there. Dorothy and Lillian accompanied her on stage. Famed director D.W. Griffith hired all three in 1912 and gave them small parts in their first silent film, An Uneasy Enemy.

Dorothy Gish appeared in more than 75 films, often with her sister, for more than 50 years. Her last film was The Cardinal in 1963. Lillian Gish - more well-known than her sister - performed for 90 years. She died in New York City in 1993.

Dorothy bought a house in Massillon in 1953, and she and Lillian used it until their deaths. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call (513) 768-8361.

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