Burke, Billie, 1885-1970

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American actress of stage and screen.

From the description of Billie Burke collection, 1910-1957. (Boston University). WorldCat record id: 70965264

Florenz "Flo" Ziegfeld was a theatrical impressario who perfected a form of the musical comedy revue, the Follies, regarded as the pinnacle of the field, while he himself became a legendary figure, making and losing several fortunes, and marrying two of his biggest stars, Anna Held and Billie Burke.

Born in Chicago in 1869, son of a classical musician and a music teacher, "Flo" Ziegfeld chose a career in popular entertainment, first as a booker of vaudeville acts and later as a producer of plays designed mainly to showcase the talents of his first wife Anna Held. He found his niche as producer of the Follies, beginning in 1907 and offering new editions annually or semi-annually until 1931. Although the Follies was best known for its lavish sets and beautiful women, Ziegfeld was adept at discovering and developing comic talent, and presented such top comedians as Fanny Brice, Bert Williams, Will Rogers, W.C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, and many others.

Ziegfeld's second wife, Billie Burke, was born into a theatrical family in Washington, D.C., in 1885, and made her stage debut at 18. Soon astar, Billie Burke alternated between the stage and films, and married Florenz Ziegfeld in 1914. She retired from acting in 1921 to raise their daughter Patricia, but resumed work after her husband was wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash, appearing in such films as DINNER AT EIGHT (1933), TOPPER (1937), and THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), as Glinda. Billie Burke died in 1970 at the age of 85.

From the description of Flo Ziegfeld-Billie Burke papers, 1907-1984. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122533473

Florenz Ziegfeld (1867-1932) has become a mythical figure in the annals of American show business. Born in Chicago, the son and namesake of a classical musician and music teacher, he opted for a career in popular entertainment, first as a booker of vaudeville acts and later, as the producer of a number of plays mainly to showcase the talents of his first wife Anna Held. He found his true niche as the synthesizer of a form of revue which became known as the Follies . Produced without a thought to expense, the Follies were the benchmark against which other producers' revues were measured. From the first Follies in 1907 to the last lavishly produced under his aegis in 1931, he succeeded in perfecting the form and making his shows the launching pad for such talented performers as Nora Bayes, Marilyn Miller, W. C. Fields, Will Rogers, Eddie Cantor, Bert Williams, Fanny Brice, amid countless others. In addition to the Follies, Ziegfeld presented a number of book musicals, the most famous of which was Show Boat, long considered the watershed in the development of the American musical form.

Billie Burke (1885-1970) was born Mary William Ethelburt Burke in Washington, D.C., the daughter of a charismatic singing clown with the Barnum and Bailey Circus named Billy Burke and a fortyish widow with four children. Their only child was a red-headed girl, who was nicknamed "Billie" for her father. Mrs. Burke became the quintessential stage mother, pushing her daughter on the stage at an early age. After attending school in England and France, Billie made her debut at the age of 14 in a London musical titled The School Girl . Gradually getting more and more substantial parts, she was spotted by American producer Charles Frohman, who lured her and her mother to New York with an offer to play opposite the matinee idol John Drew in the play My Wife . From this point on, she starred in a number of Broadway productions under Frohman's management, but after her marriage to Florenz Ziegfeld in 1914, her husband became her manager. In 1916, she began a movie career simultaneously with her stage performances and by the arrival of talking pictures, she shuttled back and forth from the movies to the stage during the rest of her career. Her most famous movie roles were as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz and as the wife of Cosmo Topper in the famous film series Topper . She wrote her autobiography With a Feather on my Nose in 1949 and a book of self-improvement With Powder on My Face in 1959.

From the guide to the Flo Ziegfeld-Billie Burke papers, 1907-1984, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Anna Held was born March 8, 1873 in Warsaw, Poland. At about seven years old she immigrated to Paris, France with her parents. After the death of her father, Anna and her mother moved to London, England where she soon began her career on the stage. Anna Held's first husband was Maximo Carrera, a South American businessman whom she met in Paris. By that time she was already a musical comedy star and had attracted the eye of Florenz Ziegfeld, who signed her to a contract to tour America. She moved to the United States leaving her husband and daughter, Liane in Paris. After completing the tour she starred on Broadway for Ziegfeld.

In 1897 Anna Held divorced her husband and married Ziegfeld. In 1912, she divorced Ziegfeld who then married Billie Burke. Anna Held died on August 2, 1918 leaving her entire estate to her daughter Liane.

In 1976 Liane Carrera opened the Anna Held Museum in San Jacinto, California. She devoted the rest of her life to telling the story of Anna Held. Liane Carrera died in 1988.

From the guide to the Anna Held Museum papers, 1897-1987, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Robert Baral papers, 1876-1980 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Nancy Hamilton Papers MS 189., 1862-1992, 1952-1959 Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf Kesselring, Joseph, 1902-1967. Best of Broadway-- "Arsenic and old lace" / by Joseph O. Kesselring ; adapted for television by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Bowling Green State University, BGSU Libraries
referencedIn Oenslager, Donald, 1902-1975. Costume designs for Life with mother, 1953. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Held, Anna, 1877?-1918. Anna Held Museum Papers, 1897-1987. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Baral, Robert. Robert Baral papers, 1876-1980. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Anna Held Museum papers, 1897-1987 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Burke, Billie, 1885-1970. Papers of Billie Burke, 1912-1945 and n.d. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Burke, Billie, 1885-1970. Billie Burke collection, 1910-1957. Boston University, School of Medical
referencedIn Vere, Jean. Portrait of Billie Burke, 1912. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Billie Burke collection, [19--?-ongoing]. Museum of Performance & Design
referencedIn White Studio (New York, N.Y.). White Studio theatrical photographs. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Heineman theatrical collection, ca. 1902-1915. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf Burke, Billie, 1885-1970. Flo Ziegfeld-Billie Burke papers, 1907-1984. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Ziegfeld, Flo, 1869-1932. Belknap Collection, Popular Performers 1907- : Florenz Ziegfeld. 1907-1958. University of Florida
referencedIn Locke, Robinson, 1856-1920,. Robinson Locke Collection, 1870-1920. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Robinson Locke Collection, 1870-1920 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Ivor Novello papers, 1911-1956. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Garvey, Marion P. Portrait of Billie Burke, 1913. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Flo Ziegfeld-Billie Burke papers, 1907-1984 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Robert Benney research materials, 1926-1978 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn The John Carter Glenn Collection, 1886-1912 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn Glenn, John Carter. The John Carter Glenn collection, 1886-1912 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Crawford, Joan, 1908-1977. Letters to Joan Crawford, 1972-1976. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Larkin, William Wallace, 1851-. Virginiana [manuscript], 1853-1927. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Scrapbook on theater and opera, 1901-1915. Museum of Performance & Design
referencedIn Stark, Samuel. Theatre scrapbook collection, 1860-1950. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Hearst, William Randolph, 1908-1993. Autograph collection [manuscript], 1895, 1935, 1965, and n.d. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Tittle, Walter, 1883-1966. Portraits of Billie Burke, 1929. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Letters to Joan Crawford, 1972-1976 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Stark, Samuel. Theatre scrapbook collection., 1860-1950 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
referencedIn Glenn, John Carter. The John Carter Glenn collection, 1886-1912 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Thatcher, Leora, b. 1894. Leora Thatcher papers, 1931-1982?. Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library
referencedIn Morehouse, Ward, 1898-1966. Ward Morehouse papers, 1877-1966 bulk (1924-1966). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Hellman, Florence Marx. Theatrical diaries kept by Florence Marx Hellman, 1903-1942. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia, 1916-1979. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Ward Morehouse papers, 1877-1966, 1924-1966 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Anna Held Museum (San Jacinto, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Baral, Robert. person
associatedWith Belasco, David, 1853-1931 person
associatedWith Benney, Robert, 1904-2001 person
associatedWith Billie Burke person
associatedWith Brice, Fanny person
associatedWith Brice, Fanny. person
associatedWith Cantor, Eddie, 1892-1964. person
associatedWith Carrera, Liane person
associatedWith Crawford, Joan, 1908-1977. person
associatedWith Dumbrille, Douglass, 1890-1974 person
associatedWith Eddie Cantor person
associatedWith Erlanger, Abraham L. person
associatedWith Florenz Ziegfeld, Sr. person
associatedWith Garvey, Marion P. person
associatedWith Gershwin, George, 1898-1937 person
associatedWith Glenn, John Carter. person
associatedWith Hamilton, Nancy person
associatedWith Held, Anna, 1877? -1918 person
associatedWith Held, Anna, 1877?-1918. person
associatedWith Hellman, Florence Marx. person
associatedWith Hoffe, Monckton, 1880-1951 person
associatedWith John Carter Glenn person
associatedWith Kummer, Clare Beecher, 1886-1958 person
associatedWith Liane Carrera person
associatedWith Locke, Robinson, 1856-1920, person
associatedWith Macauley, Joseph, d. 1967 person
associatedWith Maugham, W. Somerset (William Somerset), 1874-1965 person
associatedWith Miller, Gilbert, 1884-1969 person
associatedWith Milton Berle person
associatedWith Morehouse, Ward, 1898-1966. person
correspondedWith Novello, Ivor, 1893-1951 person
associatedWith Oenslager, Donald, 1902-1975. person
associatedWith Patricia Ziegfeld person
associatedWith Pinero, Arthur Wing, Sir, 1855-1934 person
associatedWith Poppen, Detmar person
associatedWith Rogers, Ginger, 1911- person
associatedWith Rudy Vallée person
associatedWith Samuel Stark person
associatedWith Stark, Samuel. person
associatedWith Tarkington, Booth, 1869-1946 person
associatedWith Thatcher, Leora, b. 1894. person
associatedWith Thayer, John Eldon, 1899-1980 person
associatedWith Tittle, Walter, 1883-1966. person
associatedWith Vere, Jean. person
associatedWith Victor Herbert person
associatedWith White Studio (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Will Rogers person
associatedWith Wood, Martha person
associatedWith Ziegfeld Danse de Follies (New York, N. Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Ziegfeld, Flo, 1869-1932. person
associatedWith Ziegfeld, Rosalie person
associatedWith Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolics, Inc corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--New York
California--Los Angeles
United States
Subject
Motion pictures--California--Los Angeles
Theater--United States
Motion picture industry
Theater
Motion pictures
Theater--New York (State)--New York
Musical theater
Radio scripts
Occupation
Actresses--United States
Motion picture actors and actresses--United States
Actors
Function

Person

Birth 1885-08-07

Death 1970-05-14

Americans

Information

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