Times Square Tintypes: Dorothy Gish

In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles stage and screen actress Dorothy Gish.


DOROTHY GISH. She is five feet four inches. Weighs a hundred five pounds. Wears a size four shoe. She has gray eyes. When she wears a blue hat, however, they appear bluish.
Caricature of Dorothy GishShe has traveled from New York to Hollywood forty times.
Is the proud possessor of six first editions and an original letter from Byron, denying that he wrote “The Vampire.”
The Gish girls, still in pigtails, began their theatrical careers touring the country in “10-20 and 30” melodramas in the days when movies were not only unheard of but also unseen.
Her first rôle was Little Willie in East Lynne. Her next appearance was with Lillian Gish in Her First False Step. Lillian played the rôle of Her First False Step. She was the Second False Step.
Doesn’t know a thing about cards. Consequently, she doesn’t play. She calls clubs, clovers.
For the last seven years she has been married to James Rennie.
Is not athletically inclined. Would much rather go shopping than play golf or tennis.
She is happiest when traveling. Will take a long trip on the slightest provocation. Many times she has left a happy home, almost on a moment’s notice, to sojourn in Italy, France, England, Cuba, and Rising Sun, Ohio.
She attended school for only two years. Reads omnivorously to make up for this. Read Schopenhauer when she was fourteen.
When she appeared in New York recently everybody asked her, “How’s Hollywood?” She hasn’t been in Hollywood since 1919. She has been working in studios in Italy, England, France and New York.
Is terribly superstitious. The first thing she does when she arrives in a town is to look up the local fortune teller.
She has never seen a prize fight, a Bernard Shaw play, Rin-Tin-Tin, a bicycle race, a Turkish bath or Van Cortlandt Park.
Every night before retiring she washes her stockings.
Very seldom attends the movies. Has seen only six pictures during the last two years.
Has had her hair treated by the same hairdresser for the last ten years. No matter where she may travel the hairdresser goes along. When playing in a picture she will not change her hair to fit the role but wears a wig.
She believes that all man should be tall, dark and handsome.
Her favorite drink is a frosted chocolate. And that tastes simply horrid to her unless she can sip it through a straw.
Made most of her big pictures abroad. Nell Gwynn and Madame Pompadour were made in England. Romola was made in Italy. The Bright Shawl in Havana.
In 1917 she was in France making Hearts of the World. She survived ten air raids.

When in New York she lives in Gramercy Park Place.
Once she attended a bull fight. She fainted and had to be carried out of the arena.
She has a canary named John Gish and a dog called “Nebisch.” Also a parrot who can only say: “You can teach a parrot to say that it is just as good, but he won’t know what he’s talking about.”
Fog fascinates her. For this reason she would rather live in London than any other place in the world.
She sleeps with her mouth closed.
She can remember when the Gish family, composed of herself, Lillian and their mother, had only fifteen cents to spend for luncheon. They would invest as follows: Ten cents worth of ice cream and five cents worth of ladyfingers.
As child actresses they followed the Smith family, Gladys, Lottie and Jack, in a play called In Convict Stripes. These three later became known as Mary, Lottie and Jack Pickford.
Her favorite dish is Crêpes Suzette, which in plain English is Jewish blintzes.
She simply adores dancing, and thought seriously of entering the dance marathon that took place at Madison Square Garden some time ago.
Her mother and sister didn’t attend the opening of Young Love because they were too nervous and because they had heard the play was a bit naughty. But Dorothy received this wire: “No matter what you do mother and I still love you.”
She has had seven “sweet sixteen” parties.
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