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Billie Burke: 1918

Billie Burke: 1918

Washington, D.C., native Billie Burke in her hometown circa 1918. Some 20 years later she would attain pop-culture immortality as Glinda the Good Witch in "The Wizard of Oz." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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The Uniform

The uniform is that of a US Food Administration worker. The Food Administration workers taught homemakers food conservation methods - how to reduce consumption of meats, sugar, wheat, etc. that were needed for the troops in Europe through the use of substitutions.

Early Ghostbuster

She was at her best in the 1937 Cary Grant fantasy film "Topper", playing Mrs Topper.

Favorite Quotes

I love the attitude in these quotes from Billie Burke:
"Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese."
"A woman past forty should make up her mind to be young; not her face."

Still have a crush on her

My 8-year-old self had my first crush on a girl when I saw Glinda in the "W-O-O" for the first time, on that big screen in the little theatre in my little hometown 'way back when.

Thanks to this picture, I still do, and I don't care how old she was. To me, she was no Margaret Hamilton.

Odd Oz trivia

It's hard to believe that Billie Burke (the beautiful Glinda) was almost old enough to be the mother of Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West), several years older than Frank Morgan (the Wizard et al), and only four years younger than Clara Blandick (Auntie Em).

Mrs. Ziegfeld's busy schedule

This photo was likely taken sometime during the nearly eighteen months Burke took off between shows in 1918/1919. Henry Miller cast Burke to star in the inaugural show at his new theatre on W. 43rd Street(now the Stephen Sondheim Theatre). Burke wrapped that show, Sydney Grundy's "A Marriage of Convenience," in June, 1918. It was not until November, 1919, when Burke was again cast, as the lead in "Caesar's Wife," produced by her then husband of five years Florence Ziegfeld, at the Liberty Theatre, formerly one block over from Henry Miller's Theatre. However, Burke also starred in at least five comedy shorts released between June, 1918 and November, 1919. How she found time to assist the home front is truly remarkable.

Pretty girl, indeed

Yes, she was a pretty girl then, and still a pretty lady in The Wizard of Oz.

The Real Ziegfeld Girl

She married Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. in 1914; the marriage lasted until his death in 1932.

She was a life-long accomplished actress from childhood. First movie in 1916, the last in 1960.

"Wizard of Oz?" Meh. Try "Dinner at Eight."

Are you a Good Nurse or a Bad Nurse?

Anyone recognize the uniform? My guess is it's some sort of auxiliary, e.g. Red Cross, rather than an actual RN's uniform. If you think about the 1918-1919 Spanish Influenza epidemic, even medical auxiliaries were at significant risk, in part because this was so deadly for otherwise healthy young people.

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