Thursday, September 24, 2009

Billie not Billy

Billie Burke, the rather delicate actress who played Glinda in The Wizard of Oz, was christened Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke. Even as an adult she wasn't big enough to carry all those names. Not to mention Ethelbert. Just how badly did her parents want a boy? She was primarily a very successful stage actress who happened to marry the infamous Flo Ziegfeld. Flo had many extra-marital affairs, and even after they suffered huge losses in the Crash of 1929 he still spent extravagantly. He died in 1932 leaving Billie buried in debt. One wonders if at that point she regretted her advice to wives of philandering husbands: "Act as if you don't know what's going on. . . Your gambit is to be so good to come home to." OK. After a move to California to earn money to cover the debts, Burke acted in more than sixty feature films between 1933 and 1960. And yet I only remember her as Glinda. Just as well she thought Glinda was her best role.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe she also played the lady giving the dinner party in "Dinner at Eight (1933)".