Home   >   Movie Stars   >   B   >   Billie Burke

Billie Burke

Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke (7 August 1885 - 14 May 1970) was an actress primarily known to modern audiences for her role as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz. To earlier audiences she was the feather-brained Clara Topper in a series of popular movies about a man haunted by two alcoholic ghosts and their pet St. Bernard.

Known as Billie Burke, she was born in Washington, D.C. to the famous English clown Billy Burke. She spent much of her youth travelling with her family as her father played Europe in Barnum and Bailey's Circus. In 1903 she began acting on stage, making her debut in London, and eventually returning to America to become the toast of Broadway. There she caught the eye of theatre producer Florenz Ziegfeld, marrying him in 1914.

She was quickly signed for the movies, with her first movie, in the starring role, in Peggy in 1916. She continued to appear on both stage and screen, but when the family's savings, were wiped out in the Crash of 1929, she began to concentrate on the movies. Ziegfeld died in 1932, worsening her financial situation. That same year, she starred in Dinner at Eight.

This was shortly thereafter followed by the Topper series of films and The Wizard of Oz. Another successful series followed with Father of the Bride and Father's Little Dividend.

She died in Los Angeles, California, and was interred at Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Billie Burke Facts

Birth NameMary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke
BirthdayAugust 7, 1885
BirthplaceWashington DC, District of Columbia, USA
Date of deathMay 14, 1970 (age 84)
Height5' 10" (1m78)  How tall is Billie Burke compared to you?

Selected Filmography

The Wizard of Oz
Wizard of Oz
Hi Diddle Diddle
Topper Returns
Becky Sharp
Out of Control
Breakfast In Hollywood
Topper / Topper Returns
Father of the Bride
Continue » Find more details on the Billie Burke Movies page