When I was growing up, one of my favorite films was The Wizard of Oz. In fact, it was the first musical I ever watched. It was where I was introduced to such greats a Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, and today’s feature. On this date in 1884, the beautiful Billie Burke was born. In her day, she was indeed a glamour queen. Her birth name was Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke. Her father was the internationally known clown Billy Burke.
She was born in Washington D.C., but she grew up in London, and that is where she got her early stage experience. In the early 1900’s, she returned to New York to play the leads in various Broadway shows. The great Florenz Ziegfeld noticed her, and she became his wife. She was a “Ziegfeld girl,” and she also acted in several 1930’s Hollywood films (often cast as a bumbling, high-society woman). And, of course, she played Glinda, the Good Witch of the North–who could forget her as that?
She had her own radio show in the 1940’s, and in the 1950’s, she had a short-lived television show. She may have been the first female talk show host! She tried to make a comeback on the stage, but it just was not to be. She died at the age of 85 from natural causes.
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