This week we find another hidden gem:
Billie Burke was born Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke, in 1884. I've always thought her name was quite a mouthful! Long names like that were common in those days even for girls. She was born in America, but spent her earliest years touring the world with a circus where her father was employed as a clown.
The family eventually settled in London, and it was there that Billie grew to love plays and dream of being a stage actress. She returned to the US as a young lady, and found great success as a Broadway actress. While living in New York she met and married Florenz Ziegfeld (as in Ziegfeld Follies). She also began to appear in the silent movies that were starting to take off in theaters around the nation.
Woot! Banjo Chicks Rule!!
Billie continued to work on stage and in film for much of her adult life. In 1938, she landed a small role that would probably be her best known work to those of us walking around today. She was cast as Glinda, the Good Witch of the East in the 1939 production of the Wizard of Oz.
Ms. Burke passed away in 1970, due to what was termed "dementia" at the time - but was most probably Alzheimer's. What a brutal friggin' disease. Its hard for me to imagine a worse way to leave this stage. Other diseases might kill you. Alzheimer's kills you by inches... and you're still around afterward.
If you'll indulge me for a final note:
You know I'm not a big "Cause" person. You won't often see blegs here to support this, that, or the other thing. Aside from 2nd amendment issues and supporting the troops, I don't generally push that sort of thing much.
I make a definite exception in the case of Alzheimer's, though. If you want to help make a difference in defeating a disease that strips away who you are before it kills you... I encourage you to visit the Alzheimer's Association Website to find out what you can do.