Billie Burke Unsung Legend
Billie Burke was born Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Billie Burke and is best known for her musical comic roles. She started her career with touring Europe and America as a singer with her father and later settled in London. In London, Billie made her debut with the stage act in The School Girl and later came back to become a Broadway sensation. Her Broadway appearances started gaining her recognition and she soon bagged the lead role for the movie Peggy. She efficiently juggled both theatre and movie but on having to choose between the two, she always claimed her first love was the stage.
She was later picked up for the role of Audrey Hepburn’s A Bill of Divorcement. Billie’s husband, Florenz Ziegfeld who she had met at one of the Broadway plays, was the producer of the movie and he passed away during the movie’s production. The world was awed by Billie Burke’s commitment when she resumed shooting for her part briefly after Ziegfeld’s death. It was only in 1938 when she won an Oscar nomination for her role of Emily Kilbourne in the move Merrily We Live. She bagged the role in the Oscar-winning musical movie The Wizard of Oz where she played the character of Glinda. Billie has also done substantial Television roles and hosted a show on CBS Radio.
Her Television career includes Doc Corkle and Duffy’s Tavern. Later Billie took to the stage and starred in two productions, her role was widely appreciated in spite of the plays going flop. Billie Burke was last seen in the movie Sergeant Rutledge in 1960, she passed away ten years later at the age of 85. Billie and Florenz have one daughter and four grandchildren. Theatre has subtly recognized Billie as a stage legend and her picture can still be seen in the lobby of Lyceum Theatre. A park in Hastings, New York is named after her and is known as the Burke Estate.