Mrs. Ziegfeld: The Public and Private Lives of Billie Burke

Overview

Broadway actress Billie Burke was one of the most sought after young stage beauties of her time, stealing the hearts of Enrico Caruso, Mark Twain, and, most importantly, famed Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld, who became her husband. Following Ziegfeld's death, the threats of financial ruin and encroaching age forced Burke to recreate herself as a Hollywood character actress.

This biography benefits from the cooperation of the daughter and grandchildren of Burke and Ziegfeld, ...

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Overview

Broadway actress Billie Burke was one of the most sought after young stage beauties of her time, stealing the hearts of Enrico Caruso, Mark Twain, and, most importantly, famed Broadway producer Florenz Ziegfeld, who became her husband. Following Ziegfeld's death, the threats of financial ruin and encroaching age forced Burke to recreate herself as a Hollywood character actress.

This biography benefits from the cooperation of the daughter and grandchildren of Burke and Ziegfeld, as well as from anecdotes provided by actors who performed with Burke on the stage and screen. In addition to studying the character and significance of Burke's greatest screen role in Glinda the Good Witch of the North, this richly illustrated book also provides a complete history of Burke's stage, screen, and radio work.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
enjoyable biography...an eye-opening look at the actress millions know only as Glinda the Good Witch...highly recommended
www.pbpulse.com
Hayter-Menzies' book is quite well-researched...always entertaining...eminently worth reading
examiner.com
a book that is as readable as it is scholarly
Library Journal

Coming on the heels of Ziegfeld: The Man Who Invented Show Business, this enjoyable biography of the woman who stood by her man through prosperity, infidelity, and financial disaster is an eye-opening look at the actress millions know only as Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz. Born to a circus clown father and a stage mother, Burke was a highly acclaimed star on Broadway long before her husband's excesses and the Great Depression forced her to turn to Hollywood to pay off Ziegfeld's debts and make a living. Using primary documentation and recent interviews with those who knew Burke, including her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, Hayter-Menzies (Charlotte Greenwood: The Life and Career of the Comic Star of Vaudeville, Radio and Film) allows us to see the real Billie Burke, "the straight-shooting, straight-talking woman of the world, the absolute opposite of the ditzy typecast" she so often played. The result is the story of a highly talented and courageous, though often insecure, woman who entertained millions during an unparalleled career. Highly recommended for theater, film, and biography collections.
—Laura A. Ewald

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786438006
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/9/2009
  • Pages: 245
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Biographer Grant Hayter-Menzies lives in Sidney, British Columbia. His works include biographies of Charlotte Greenwood, Princess Der Ling, and Billie Burke Ziegfeld.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Foreword Eric Myers 1

Preface 3

Part I Sawdust, Stardust

1 "A shy, wistful sort of moppet" 9

2 The Education of an Actress 16

3 Toast of Broadway 28

4 Halcyon Hour 33

5 "There is only one Billie Burke..." 40

6 Soubrette 47

7 Burkeley Crest 54

8 Mr. Ziegfeld 61

9 Mrs. Ziegfeld 73

10 Movie Star 79

11 "...you love others so much, too..." 89

12 "The fine days" 94

13 Flickering Star 101

14 A Beginning, and an End 112

Part II Silly Woman

15 Crash 123

16 Death, Then Life 135

17 "A small, bewildered comedienne..." 142

18 The Great Ziegfeld 156

19 Good Witch 167

20 "Oma" 179

21 Final Curtain 194

Appendix: Billie Burke's Performance History 207

Chapter Notes 217

Bibliography 225

Index 229

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