What a birthday weekend! Yesterday was, of course, the 100th birthday of Lucille Ball, for which a brilliant blogathon was organized over at True Classics, and today marks what would have been the 127th birthday (whew!) of one of the truly underrated character actresses of the 1930’s, the marvelous Billie Burke.
Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke (whose name was probably longer than she was) is primarily known for being the kindly Glinda in The Wizard of Oz. She was also featured prominently in such comedies as Dinner at Eight and Everybody Sing, and became known for her birdlike voice and for playing dizzy, scatterbrained characters. She was nominated for an Academy Award in 1938 for Merrily We Live, and another of her claims to fame is that she was, at one point, married to Florenz Ziegfeld.
It’s a shame that Billie Burke is not so well-remembered today as some of her contemporaries. If people know her at all, it is for her role as Glinda, and though we can’t really be surprised, many of her other roles are just as good, if not even better (and better suited to her talent), than Glinda.
Here is a small tribute. Happy birthday, Billie Burke!
Dinner at Eight, 1933
Everybody Sing, 1938
Merrily We Live, 1938
The Wizard of Oz, 1939
With husband Florenz Ziegfeld.