Monday, June 1, 2009

New Billie Burke Biography


Billie Burke, who may be most remembered for her impossibly bubbly (literally) portrayal of Glinda the Good Witch in the “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) is the subject of a new biography by Grant Hayter-Menzies.

According to the press release issued by Mr. Hayter-Menzies, this is the first biography to be written about the glittering popular headliner-turned-character actress (though Billie Burke did pen her autobiography decades ago). Titled, “Mrs. Ziegfeld: The Private and Public Lives of Billie Burke” (McFarland & Co.), her stage career, her bittersweet marriage to Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., and her Hollywood roles are addressed as well as, according to Mr. Hayter-Menzies, “the common misperception that Billie was in person anything like the daffy women she played when she returned to Hollywood in 1932.” Other roles the author reviews include Burke’s Millicent Jordan in "Dinner at Eight" and her role as Cordelia Fosgate in "Sergeant Rutledge," her last starring screen appearance.

An interview with Mr. Hayter-Menzies on his earlier book about Charlotte Greenwood was featured in this blog post from 2007. For more information on his new Billie Burke biography, have a look here.

8 comments:

John Hayes said...

It always seems a bit disorienting to me when I see Oz actors in other roles; I always have that feeling about Frank Morgan, tho he's great in all his roles. Billie Burke is a lot of fun in Topper & The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

I'm the same way with Ray Bolger and Jack Haley. "What the heck are you guys doing out of Oz?"

panavia999 said...

I look forward to reading a bio of Billie Burke. Thanks for bringing it to my attention

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

You're welcome, Panavia, thanks for stopping by.

John Hayes said...

Hi Jacqueline:

I forgot to click on the subscribe by email link after my first comment! Anyway, some folks had questions at RFrost Banjo about a "building" (you'll see why it's in quotes) in Springfield, MA. My father took a photo of it in the late 30s, & I know nothing beyond the caption. I figured if anyone might know about it, you would. Could you stop by for an assessment of the "dirigible night club" when you have some time to spare? Thanks!

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

I'll be right over. Just let me put on my shoes.

Rupert Alistair said...

I understand that unless one is a true classic movie fan, it's hard to see Billie Burke as anything other than Glinda, as it is such an over the top role in a spectacularly mounted film. But to more hard core cinephiles, I hope she can be appreciated for the multitude of various roles that she brought to the screen, including Lavinia Timberlake in IN THIS OUR LIFE, The Sahib's wife in the wonderful THE YOUNG IN HEART and Mrs. Pidgeon in the rarely seen but very good THE CHEATERS.

Rupert

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Hi, Rupert, thanks for the reminder of Billie Burke's other interesting roles. As you say, she certainly does deserve a second look beyond "Oz".