The annual career-achievement award, initiated in 1994 when Los Angeles architect
It was created under the will of Lillian Gish, whose long career -- including roles alongside her younger sister, Dorothy -- began as one of Hollywood’s first superstar actresses. The awards have tended not to favor actors, however: Smith and Robert Redford, the 2008 recipient, are the only ones among the 19 winners. The only playwright to have won besides Smith is
In a written announcement of the award Friday, Smith said: "The Gish Prize provides credibility and recognition for artists who invented a new path for themselves and their work. The Gish sisters leave an enduring lesson for all artists that forging their own a path is worth the effort. I am deeply honored and can't imagine a greater honor than having my name linked with the incomparable Dorothy and Lillian Gish."
It’s not quite the biggest cash prize Smith has won; in 1996, she received a $280,000
Smith received 1994 Tony nominations for best actress and best play for “Twilight: Los Angeles,” her docu-drama about the
The Gish Prize solicits open nominations via its website. From those, 30 finalists were culled, and a five-member panel that included choreographer Garth Fagen, artist George Negroponte, a
Smith’s most recent play, “Let Me Down Easy,” concerned issues of illness and dying amid the problem-plagued U.S. healthcare system; the interviewees she portrayed included two prominent cancer patients, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards and the now-disgraced cyclist
Smith is a professor in