Lillian Diana Gish (October 14, 1893 – February 27, 1993) was an American actress of the screen and stage, as well as a director and writer whose film acting career spanned 75 years, from 1912 in silent film shorts to 1987. Gish was called the First Lady of American Cinema, and she is credited with pioneering fundamental film performing techniques.
Gish was a prominent film star of the 1910s and 1920s, particularly associated with the films of director D. W. Griffith, including her leading role in the highest-grossing film of the silent era, Griffith's seminal The Birth of a Nation (1915). At the dawn of the sound era, she returned to the stage and appeared in film infrequently, including well-known roles in the controversial western Duel in the Sun (1946) and the offbeat thriller The Night of the Hunter (1955). She also did considerable television work from the early 1950s into the 1980s and closed her career playing opposite Bette Davis in the 1987 film The Whales of August. In her later years Gish became a dedicated advocate for the appreciation and preservation of silent film. Gish is widely considered to be the greatest actress of the silent era, and one of the greatest actresses in cinema history. Despite being better known for her film work, Gish was also an accomplished stage actress, and she was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1972.