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The Religious Affiliation of
Lillian Gish
great American actress


Gish was born to a Lutheran father and an Episcopalian mother. Her father abandoned the family when she was a child. Gish was a devout Episcopalian. Gish was interred at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City (source: http://www.lilliangish.com/), the Episcopal church that she attended regularly. Although they share the same last name, screen legend Lillian Gish is
not related to Lutheran actress Annabeth Gish.

From "Lillian Returns to Bowling Green," written on December 6th 1994 by Dr. Paul Charlesworth, whilst working at the Center for Photochemical Sciences, BGSU (Bowling Green State University, which houses the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Film Theater in Hanna Hall, and an impressive collection of Gish photographs and related material, much of it provided by Gish); URL: http://chemistry.mtu.edu/~pcharles/GISH/return.html:

She doesn't have much to say about modern films, but her disappointment in the current products of the media so beloved to her is evident. "Film is the universal language. It can do great things. We have advanced, technically, in films enormously, but intellectually and spiritually, we have gone in the opposite direction." She pauses, then continues.

"I feel strongly that actors and actresses today need to take responsibility for what they say and do in film, even if they are only acting. They don't have to do the script. Look at the crime in our country. A little boy of nine holds up a bank. Where did he learn that? I'm not saying, but I have an idea."

..."Live equally in your body, mind and spirit," Miss Gish advises. "You must feel your faith inside, and live it outside. I know there's a higher power watching out for me."

She has been a member of St. Bartholomew's Church in New York for many years and attends whenever she is there. As for her traveling lifestyle, she says, "Mother used to tell us that even if we couldn't find our own church, any church was better than no church at all!" Her deep Christian convictions have helped her lead a fruitful and joyful life, she adds. Her father's family was German Lutheran and her mother's, Episcopalian. Miss Gish recently wrote an article for "Guideposts," a Christian magazine with a large national circulation, and is now working on a book about the history of religion in film.

Because her father deserted the family when Lillian was a toddler, she learned to take care of herself at an earlier age than most youngsters.

Excerpt from chapter 1 of Lillian Gish: Her Legend, Her Life, by Charles Affron (Scribner, 2001), published in The New York Times (URL: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/a/affron-gish.html):
The daughter of James Leigh Gish and Mary Robinson McConnell, Lillian Gish was proud of her roots, deeply planted in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century America... Her ties were infinitely stronger to her mother's side, and she had, in fact, had little contact with her father's family for many years... James Gish and Mary McConnell... They were married on January 7, 1893, at a Lutheran church in Dayton.

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Webpage created 21 June 2005. Last modified 21 June 2005.
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