Archive for May 3rd, 2012

by Allan Fish

When dear Lillian Gish died in 1993, months short of her hundredth birthday, I remember thinking that surely hers would be the longest career in film we would ever see.  Starting in 1912 for Griffith, taking in so many masterpieces of both his career and then of Victor Sjöstrom in the 1920s, continuing in supporting roles in such films as Duel in the Sun, Portrait of Jennie and The Night of the Hunter and coming to an end with The Whales of August in 1987.  She was 94 when that film was shot, the last in a career that lasted 75 years.  Just think of it – three quarters of a century working in films and she wasn’t even a child star.

Others have had their own share of immortality.  Christopher Lee is still working, having come into films in 1947 – 65 years.  Johnnie Gielgud made his first film appearance in 1933 in The Good Companions in 1933, when he was 28, and made his last in 1999, 66 years later.  Hideko Takamine started at 4 in Japan in 1929 and retried fifty years later.  One of the greatest actresses of world cinema then became forgotten, so that most in the west hardly noticed she passed in Christmas week 2010.  Yet it’s amazing to think that there’s an actress out there – and a legend at that – who has been working since she was 14 and is still officially active as I write having made her most recent film in 2010, 79 years after she started.  Just think, when she was born in Bordeaux, World War I was still raging, Woodrow Wilson was president, George V was on the English throne and Chaplin was working on his two reel masterpieces at Mutual.  She turned 95 on Tuesday. (more…)

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