Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Billie Burke: "Glinda the Good Witch of the North" and Mrs. Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr.

Her name was Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke Ziegfeld, but fans, even as I write this article, of the 1939 classic fantasy motion picture, "The Wizard of Oz", know her simply as, "Glinda, the Good Witch of the North", and at the proper point, I will discuss that film.












However, there was more to the lady known as Billie Burke and this is an overview of a remarkable entertainer, wife, and mother.

I begin my story with a look at her father, William Ethelbert Burke, nicknamed "Billy", born on October 23, 1843, in Waterford, Knox County, Ohio. We know that he enlisted in the Union Army to fight in the Civil War. That war began on April 12, 1961, if he enlisted at that time, Billy Burke would have been 17-years-of-age. We have documents in the library of "Harvard College" that indicates he was known for:

"cheerful songs and merry jokes", that his fellow soldiers said made him the "life and soul" of their encampment. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Burke-2407#Sources

We also know that this young soldier took part in the "Battle of Arkansas Post", not to be confused with the same named battle, at the same location, during the Revolutionary War. As a result of the battle, William "Billy" Burke was seriously injured and medically discharged from the army. 



Sometime, after his medical discharge, Billy Burke became a professional circus clown, and by 1882, he was working for the "Barnum and Bailey Circus".
















I add to the story Blanche Beatty, who was born on April 24, 1844, in Zanesville,  Muskingum County, Ohio. However, some websites list her birth as in Union Township, Clermont County, Ohio. What is agreed upon is that she had first married George Hodkinson, who was born in England, in 1844, but he died in 1875, in Marietta, Washington County, Ohio. The couple had three children, Florence Hodkinson born in 1865, Blanche Beatty Hodkinson born in 1867, and George Flood Hodkinson, born in 1868.

At some time after George's death, popular song and dance man and clown, William "Billy" Burke met Blanche Beatty Hodkinson, and the two married on May 30, 1883, in Washington, the District of Columbia. William and Blanche's daughter, Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke, was born on August 7, 1884. 

When his daughter was old enough to travel around the United States. Billy started taking her on his tours with the "Barnum and Bailey Circus" and his solo's in vaudeville. In 1889, Billy Burke went to London, England, when the "Barnum and Bailey Circus" first appeared in the United Kingdom. When the circus returned in 1897, William Ethelbert Burke would remain there as part of his self-produced, "Barnum & Great London CIRCUS". At which time he moved his family across the pond and finished his daughter Mary's education in London. Billing himself as "America's Greatest Clown", Billy Burke would continue performing until his death, in the United Kingdom, on October 6, 1906, at the age of 62. 





William "BILLY" Burke, did live to see his daughter, now professionally calling herself, "BILLIE" Burke, first perform on the London stage at the original, "Prince of Wales Theatre".






The production was the 1903, Edwardian musical, "The School Girl", composed by Leslie Stuart, with additional songs by Paul Rubens. Billie Burke portrayed one of the "American girls", "Mamie Reckfeller".

























Above left to right, Billie Burke as "Mamie Reckfeller", James Blakeley as "Tubby Bedford", and Maude Percival as "Violette"

Also in 1903, at the "Lyric Theatre", London, Billie Burke portrayed a "Servant Girl", in the comic opera,"The Duchess of Dantzic", by Ivan Caryll and Henry Hamilton. She is also listed as a "Replacement Player", but I could not determine for which character, or characters.








































On February 29, 1904, Billie Burke portrayed "Evelyn Ormsby" in the Edwardian musical, "The Blue Moon", set in India during the "British Raj", that had opened in Northampton, I could not locate the name of the theatre. However, she continued in the role when on August 28, 1905, the play moved to the "Lyric Theatre".






































Billie continued to appear on the British stage moving up in her roles and in 1909, she crossed the pond and appeared on Broadway at the "Lyceum Theatre", 149 West 45th Street, in playwright, W. Somerset Maugham's, "Mrs. Dot", in the title role, January 24, 1910 through March 1910.




From December 10, 1910 through February 1, 1910, she appeared in the title role of "Suzanne", by Frantz Fonson and Fernand Wicheler, at the "Lyceum". Staying at the theatre, she next appeared in Pierre Veber and Henri De Grosse's, "The Runaway", October 9, 1911 through December 1911. On September 1, 1912, at the theatre, was the British play, "The 'Mind-The-Paint' Girl", which Billie starred in until closing on January 1, 1913.








There are two stories about how Billie Burke first met Florenz Ziegfeld: 

From April 18, 1913 through June 7, 1913, Billie Burke appeared at the "Empire Theatre", 1430 Broadway, in a revival of the 1893 , "The Amazons: A Farcical Romance", by Arthur Wing Pinero.


























According to one of the stories, Billie Burke first met Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., after one of the performances of the play, "The Amazons: A Farcical Romance".

While, the second story places their first meeting at a New Year's Eve Party, December 31, 1913. Which would have taken place six-days after the start of her new play, "The Land of Promise", by W. Somerset Maugham", at the "Lyceum", that ran from December 25, 1913 through March 1, 1914. Below a still from the play found at:


Which is described on that page as a:
Still from the 1913 Broadway production of The Land of Promise with Billie Burke, in the front of the 1914 novelization of the play. Caption: You don't know what I went through before I came here.




























Whichever story is true, or perhaps neither are, actress Billie Burke married Broadway impresario, Florenz Edward Ziegfeld, Jr. (Flo Ziegfeld) on April 11, 1914.
























His parents were German immigrant, Dr. Florenz Edward Ziegfeld, II (known in Chicago as "Senior"). He is seen below in the uniform of a Brigadier General of the Illinois National Guard. "Senior" came from a strong musical family with major European connections and was the founder of the "Chicago School of Music" in 1867. Which he would rename the "Chicago Musical College".






"Senior's" wife was Rosalie DeHez, born in France and a grandniece of one of Napoleon's generals.






















Their son, technically, Florenz Edward Ziegfeld III (Junior), was born on March 21, 1867.

In early 1871, Senior moved the college to a new location and expanded it, but on October 8th,  thank you the O'Leary family, "The Great Chicago Fire" took place. Some of the college's building were either damaged or completely lost. They were rebuilt and in 1945, the  "Chicago Musical College", became a part of "Roosevelt University", where it remains today. 

With the coming of Chicago's "World's Columbian Exposition", known as the "1893, Chicago World's Fair", with his son's help, senior quickly created a night club, "The Trocadero", to make money off of the "Fair".

According to the "Chicago Tribune", November 14, 1893:
The old First Regiment Armory on Jackson street, between Washbush and Michigan avenues, is to become a theater. It will be under the control of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., manager of the Trocadero, which closes Dec. 3.


Actually the original nightclub, the "Trocadero" closed, and a new location opened as a theater. Above, Eugen Sandow, actually German body builder Friedrich Wilhelm Muller, was also the bouncer at the "Trocadero".

Helene Anna Held was a Polish-born-French stage performer appearing in London. Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. was in the city in 1896. They met, and she became his common law wife. Together they returned to New York City. 
























Anna suggested to her common law husband that he create an American show like the "Parisian Folies Bergere". On July 7, 1907, the very first "Ziegfeld Follies" opened at the "Jardin de Paris", the garden setting on the roof of the "Lyric Theatre", 214 West 43rd Street, on Broadway.  Four more "Ziegfeld Follies" productions would take place at the roof top garden.






























According to Anna Held's obituary in the "New York Times", dated the day after her death, August 13, 1918. She had filed divorce papers from Ziegfeld on April 14, 1912, over his affair with another woman, and the divorce became final on January 9, 1914.

That other woman was not Billie Burke, but Lillian Lorraine. Depending upon what source you use for her birth year. She was either 16, or 17, when she joined the "Ziegfeld Follies", below, Lillian in 1909. 






























According to Billie Burke, her husband never stopped loving Lillian, who had a turbulent love life with the men she found in other women's lives. Lillian was only married once, make that twice, to Frederick M. Gresheimer. The met on a beach, on March 27, 1912, they married, but it was illegal as he had not divorced his first wife. They remarried in May 1913, and ten-days later she called it off, and annulled the re-marriage, because he misrepresented himself.  


Some sources list Billie Burke's first on-screen appearance in an episode of "Our Mutual Girl", starring the "Mutual Film Girl", Norma Phillips, portraying "Margaret". Who in 52-weekly serial
installments, while staying with her Aunt in New York City, meets real famous people, in what was, starting in 1956, called a cameo appearance. The first installment of "Our Mutual Girl", was on January 19, 1914 and Burke appeared in one of the following episodes. However, this is considered a "Lost Film" and there appears to be no information on what the Broadway actress did.

Two-years later, was Billie Burke's actual first on-screen appearance. Of her first 19-motion pictures, only two films are not still considered to be "Lost".

PEGGY aka: THE DEVIL'S PEPPER POT released January 2, 1916





This was the first motion picture that had a song especially written for it. Which was based upon the incidental music that was published from the film. 

The motion picture was produced and co-directed by Thomas H. Ince. His production company was named "Triangle" and was a ranch located in Santa Inez Canyon, in what is now Pacific Palisades, California.















Billie Burke portrayed "Peggy Cameron".
























The website for the "Academy of Motion Pictures" at:


Has this description of the restored motion picture:
When American socialite Peggy (Billie Burke) is forced to move to quiet Scotland to live with her uncle, she scandalizes the community with her rambunctious ways. Peggy’s high-spirited demeanor and unapologetic ideals truly feel ahead of their time in this early silent picture. Once thought lost, the film was reconstructed from two safety elements held by the Academy Film Archive, with original color tinting reconstructed digitally. The main title card and final reel do not survive in any form, and these scenes were filled in with stills from the Margaret Herrick Library and text from the 1916 copyright registration.  

 









 


























On May 22, 1916, Chapter One, of Twenty-two, in the serial "Gloria's Romance" was released. Billie Burke was the first major Broadway actress, or actor, to star in a "Cliff-Hanger (Chapter Serial)".



This was the story of an adventure loving girl getting lost in the Florida Everglades and finding love and rescue by the serial's ending. 





On October 23, 1916, Patricia Burke Ziegfeld was born.

















On August 19, 1917, found Billie Burke in the title role of "Mavis Terry", robbing the home of society girl "Helen Wentworth", in "The Mysterious Miss Terry". After the brazen robbery, "Mavis" returns to the boarding house she stays at and using the stolen money, pays her overdue rent. At the same boarding house are three men, a struggling author, a hardware clerk, and a department store ribbon clerk. All three are interested in "Mavis", and she has to decide which one really loves her for what she appears to be. In the end, rich, society girl, "Helen Wentworth", married struggling author, "Gordon True". After revealing to him, who "Mavis Terry" really is, and she will publish her new husband's book.


































At the "Hudson Theatre", 141 W. 44th St., Billie Burke starred in the Broadway play "The Rescuing Angel", by Claire Kummer, from October 8, 1917 through November 1917. The play was produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., and would become a 1919 motion picture, but without Burke in it. 

On October 14, 1917, the second Billy Burke motion picture not considered lost of that first nineteen, "Arms and the Girl", was released.



Billie Burke portrayed "Ruth Sherwood", who gets caught touring Belgium when the Germans invade it on August 4, 1914. A Russian spy, "Olga Karnovitch", portrayed by Louise Bates, attempts to get out of Belgium by stealing "Ruth's" identity.

As I mentioned above, between December 25, 1913 through March 1, 1914,  Billie Burke starred in the W. Somerset Maugham play, "The Land of Promise", at the "Lyceum Theatre". On December 9, 1917, Billie Burke starred in the motion picture version of Maugham's play. 




Notice the tag line:
By arrangement with F. Ziegfeld, Jr.

It appears that Billie Burke may have been the first Broadway actor, or actress, to actually recreate their role in the motion picture version of a play they appeared in. Based upon the Broadway cast listing compared to the motion picture cast listing, this is apparent. The motion picture is considered "A Lost Film" and the stills used on the IMDb website as from the motion picture. Actually comes from the stage play.


Below a picture of Patricia Ziegfeld taken in 1909.


















Billie Burke had been a trend setter for women's fashions since 1909 and by 1920, "Billie Burke Dress Patterns" had become common place for housewives to make their own clothing. Billie's on and off screen wardrobe, during that period, were provided by European couturier "Lucille", actually Lucy ChristinanaLady Duff-Gordon, seen below in 1919. She was a leading British fashion designer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.














































Between 1918 and 1928, Billie Burke appeared on stage in another seven Broadway plays ending with 1928's, "The Happy Husband". During the same period she was seen on-screen eleven-times ending with 1921's, "The Education of Elizabeth".

The following was her photograph from the February 1920 issue of "Vanity Fair".


























On February 7, 1922, at the age of 77, Billie's mother, Blanche Beatty Burke, passed a way.

The website, "Social Networks and Archival Context" at:


Quotes a misleading statement that I have found, word for word, on other sites and sources, about Billie Burke Ziegfeld and her husband. The quotation reads:
--- She retired from acting in 1921 to raise their daughter Patricia, but resumed work after her husband was wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash ---
We know Billie stopped working in motion pictures, only, in 1921, but from 1921 until the stock market crash in 1929, she continued to appear on the Broadway stage, five-times. The quotation makes it seem she stopped acting completely for eight-years.

Also, to this motion picture historian, the statement that

--- her husband was wiped out in the 1929 stock market crash ---

Doesn't ring completely true! Yes, Florenz Ziegfeld had lost much of his money in the stock market crash and had run up debts, but he was not "wiped out". Let me look at the two years before the crash and the two years after the crash for the Ziegfeld's.

In 1927, Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. had built, with financial assistance from newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst, the 1,638 seat, "Ziegfeld Theatre", located at 1341 Sixth Avenue, at the corner of 54th Street.































The theatre's first production, produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, was the musical, "Rio Rita". Which ran at the theatre from February 2, 1927 to December 25th. Ziegfeld moved the musical to the "Lyric Theatre" and after that run, to the "Majestic Theatre", for a total of 494 performances, the last on April 7, 1928. 





Over at the "New Amsterdam Theatre", 214 West 42nd street, from August 28, 1927 through January 7, 1928, "The Ziegfeld Follies of 1927" were being performed for 167-performances.

In 1926, American authoress Edna Ferber published her novel "Showboat". It would be turned into a classic 1936 motion picture by director James Whale, but first Ferber's story became a classic American Broadway musical from Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Which was produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, as the second production at his "Ziegfeld Theatre".

For my reader who might be interested, my article is "Edna Ferber and the Hollywood Interpretations: Featuring Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Ava Gardner, Jane Wyman, Irene Dunne, Kathryn Grayson, Carolyn Jones and Ginger Rodgers" to be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/12/edna-ferber-and-hollywood.html

"Showboat" opened at the "Ziegfeld Theatre", after an out of town run, on December 27, 1927 and didn't close until May 4, 1929. 




From January 10, 1928 through October 27, 1928, Ziegfeld produced "Rosalie", played at the "New Amsterdam Theatre".

The Florenz Ziegfeld produced musical version of French author Alexander Dumas', "The Three Musketeers", played at the "Lyric Theatre", March 13, 1928, to December 15, 1928.

The Ziegfeld produced Eddie Cantor musical, "Whoopee!", had opened on November 4, 1928 and ran through November 23, 1929, at the "New Amsterdam Theatre".

While at the "Ziegfeld Theatre", on July 2, 1929, "Show Girl", opened and would run through October 5, 1929. 

Twenty-three days after "Show Girl" closed it's run, was:

"Black Monday", October 28, 1929, when the "New York Stock Market", closed down 13-percent. Monday was followed by "Black Tuesday", with the stock market closing down 12-percent. By, Mid-November, the Dow had lost half its value and what became known as "The Great Depression" began in earnest.

The title of the next production at the "Ziegfeld Theatre", opening on November 5, 1929, couldn't have been more ironic to the American theater goer, "Bitter Sweet", would run through March 22, 1930.

On December 7, 1929, Billie Burke was uncredited in a pre-production code sound musical feature film, produced by her husband, who also appears as himself in the film. The title uses the tag line for the "Ziegfeld Follies":

GLORIFYING THE AMERICAN GIRL




The final third of this motion picture was a "Ziegfeld Follies" production number filmed in Technicolor. That finishes the story of a chorus girl, portrayed by Mary Eaton, rising to become a star.




While, "Bitter Sweet", was playing at the "Ziegfeld Theatre", Billy Burke appeared for a short seven-performance run on the Broadway stage in "Family Affairs", produced by her husband, December 10, 1929 through December 16, 1929 at "Maxine Elliott's Theatre", 109 West 39th Street. The theatre would become a "Mutual Broadcasting System" radio studio in 1941, and a "Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)" radio studio in 1944.
















On February 18, 1930, the Florenz Ziegfeld produced "Simple Simon", co-written and starring comedian Ed Wynn, opened at the "Ziegfeld Theatre". The musical would end its run there on June 14, 1930. "Simple Simon" would be followed on November 18, 1930 by the Ziegfeld produced, "Smiles", that ran through January 10, 1931.

While over at the "Ethel Barrymore Theatre", 243 W. 47th Street, Billie Burke appeared in "The Truth Game", December 27, 1930 through March 1931.




Above in 1930, are Florenz, Patricia, and Billie Ziegfeld.

The "Ziegfeld Follies of 1931", ran from July 1931 through November 21, 1931, at the "Ziegfeld Theatre". On March 8, 1932, the musical "Hot-Cha!", produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, opened at the "Ziegfeld", and ran through June 18, 1932. 

On April 3, 1932, radio audiences heard the first episode of "The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air". Producer Florenz Ziegfeld, also a guest on the program, attempted to get his Broadway show, without the girls, over the radio to a larger audience. It was hosted by actor, screenplay writer, director and music composer, Eddie Dowling. Among the "Ziegfeld" performers were Fanny Brice, Helen Morgan, and Will Rodgers. The initial run, sponsored by the "Chrysler Motor Company" was at 8:30 PM ET, changed to 10:30 PM ET, and ended on June 26, 1932.

While at the "Casino Theatre", 753 Seventh Avenue, the Florenz Ziegfeld produced revival of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's, "Showboat" opened, May 19, 1932 through October 22, 1932. 



























Sadly, Florence Edward Ziegfeld II, while in Hollywood, California, passed away from pleurisy, on July 22, 1932, caused by a previous lung infection.

Billie lost control of "The Ziegfeld Theatre" to William Randolph Hearst. In 1933, the legitimate theatre became a movie theater run by "Lowes, Incorporated", as the "Lowe's Ziegfeld". In 1944, showman and producer, Billy Rose, bought the movie houseand returned the "Ziegfeld" to a legitimate theatre.

The reason Florenz Ziegfeld was in Hollywood in July 1932, was to be with his wife during the filming of his wife's motion picture:

A BILL OF DIVORCEMENT premiering on September 28, 1932 in Washington, D.C.





In 1921, British playwright Clemence Dane, wrote the stage play, in 1922, his play was turned into a British silent feature film. This was the second of three feature film versions of the play and this screenplay was written by Howard Estabrook and Harry Wagstaff Gribble.

The feature film was directed by George Cukor, who would become the major director for Katharine Hepburn.

John Barrymore portrayed "Hilary Fairfield". "The Great Profile" had just been seen in 1932's, "Grand Hotel", and would follow this feature film co-starring with his brother Lionel, and sister, Ethel Barrymore, in 1932's, "Rasputin and the Empress".

Katharine Hepburn portrayed "Sydney (or Sidney) Fairfield". This was her first motion picture and producer David O. Selznick didn't want her, but director Cukor did. She followed this feature film with the next Billie Burke film I will mention. Although the above poster has her in second position, she is listed on the official cast listing in third.

















Billie Burke portrayed "Margaret 'Meg' Fairfield". She is actually listed in the official cast as in second position.





















David Manners portrayed "Kit Humphrey's". Manners was two films away from the Boris Karloff, 1932, "The Mummy", and just been seen co-starring with Ann Dvorak, in the musical-comedy feature film, 1932's, forgotten, "Crooner".



















The Basic Screenplay:

On Christmas Eve, the audience meets middle-aged English woman, "Margaret 'Meg' Fairchild". Her 15-years old daughter, "Sydney", (Hepburn was 25), her fiancé "Kit Humphrey's", (Manners was 32), and "Meg's" own fiancé, "Gray Meredith", below, portrayed by "Paul Cavanagh. 


















Also there is "Meg's" husband's sister, "Hester Fairchild", portrayed by Elizabeth Patterson. "Meg's" husband, "Hilary", has been in a mental hospital for the last 15-years, and she has filed a "Bill of Divorcement". 






















The following morning while "Meg" and "Gray" are in Church, the phone rings at the house, "Aunt Hester" answers it, to find out that her brother has gone missing from the mental institute. Accidentally, she lets "Sydney" know that insanity runs in their family and another member from her father and aunt's family was also insane. "Meg' returns home to find "Hilary" there, and he thinks that nothing has changed between them.






























It will take the arrival of "Dr. Alliot", portrayed by Henry Stephenson, above left, to convince "Hillary" that things have changed over the past 15-years. This becomes clear to "Hillary", when sees "Meg" with "Gray" and how much she loves him.

The twist, or not, comes at the end, when Dad and Daughter realize they're made for each other, not insane, but eccentric. "Meg" will have her divorce and "Kit" is sent on his way, as Dad and Daughter decide to live together in the house with a happy "Aunt Hester".


Billie now permanently moved Patricia and herself to Beverly Hills, California. Her home, at 1121 Tower Road, had six-bedrooms, nine-baths, and was built in traditional Spanish style in 1928, at 10,000 square feet. The following photos are from a story about the house currently on the market for 21.75 million dollars. 






















































































Patricia would conclude her high school schooling and go to college at the "University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)".


CHRISTOPHER STRONG premiering in New York City on March 9, 1933





The motion picture is based upon a 1931 novel by Gilbert Frankau. Otherwise, this could be considered a woman's motion picture. The screenplay was written by poet, novelist, and playwright, 
Zoe Akins. The director is Dorothy Arzner, she was a writer and film-editor during the silent movie era. 

Katharine Hepburn, in her second motion picture is the star, portraying "Lady Cynthia Darrington". Director Arzner, and screenplay writer Akins, made the decision to change Frankau's character from a race car driver to a British aviator based upon the real-life, Amy Johnson "CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire)".






















Amy Johnson, above, Katharine Hepburn, below

























Colin Clive portrayed "Sir Christopher Strong". My article is "Colin Clive: Henry, Not Victor Frankenstein and Alcoholism" at:




























Billie Burke portrayed "Lady Elaine Strong". 

Helen Chandler portrayed "Monica Strong". Of course, she was, "Mina", in director Tod Brownings, 1931, "Dracula". This was probably her last good role, as she became an alcoholic. Although, Helen Chandler attempt to stop drinking, her acting career was over by the end of 1935. In 1950, while smoking, she fell asleep in her apartment, a fire started burning and disfigured her entire body. Chandler lived, but was never the same person.






























The Basic Screenplay:

This was a pre-motion picture code film, the code went into effect the following year, and there are parts to this story that wouldn't be permitted under it, especially the ending.

In London, "Monica Strong" and her married lover, "Harry Rawlinson", portrayed by Ralph Forbes, attend a savager hunt party given by "Monica's" aunt, "Carrie Valentine", portrayed by Irene Browne. A tie breaking challenge is given by "Carrie", women must find a man married more than five-years and faithful. Men must find a woman over 20, who has never had a love affair.

"Monica" leaves to locate her father, "Sir Christopher Strong", who is devoted to her mother. "Harry" leaves on a motorbike and crashes. "Lady Cynthia Darrington", a famous lady aviator, comes along, helps him, and goes back with "Harry" to the party. 



























According to the screenplay, the free thinking "Cynthia", is well over 20 and has never had a love affair with anything other than flying. At the party, "Cynthia" meets a friend of her father, British Parliament politician"Christopher Strong". She will become a close friend of "Monica Strong" and will show some interest in "Christopher". Which "Monica" doesn't like, because her father is very faithful to her mother, "Lady Elaine Strong".

"Monica" comes home one evening very drunk with "Harry". "Lady Strong" confronts the two and believes the married "Harry" is a bad influence on her daughter. She tells him, if he's a honorable man, he needs to break off his relationship with "Monica", and "Harry" agrees. 

Meanwhile, there is a costume party and "Cynthia" was dressed as a moth. After that party's over, she is attracted to a flame, "Christopher Strong".





































"Lady Elaine Strong" is concerned about the friendship between "Cynthia" and her husband, but "Christopher" replies that there is nothing between them. He tells his wife that he believes, though, that "Cynthia" is a good influence on "Monica". 

"Lady Strong" is looking for a month alone with her husband at the family villa in Cannes, France, but unknown to her. "Christopher" has asked "Cynthia" to persuade, the very down since "Harry" left, "Monica", to go with her parents. A telegram arrives at the house, "Elaine Strong" opens it, and reads that not only will "Monica" be going to the villa, but "Cynthia" has agreed to also go. Resulting in "Elaine's" hope of getting closer to her husband, smashed.






























Above at the villa, left to right, Katharine Hepburn, Colin Clive, Billie Burke, and Helen Chandler.
Although nothing had actually happened before, "Christopher" and "Cynthia" now start an affair.

"Lady Strong" is in conflict, because she loves her husband and believes he still loves her. The way the role is written and portrayed by Billie Burke, "Lady Elaine Strong", is not the usual shrewish wife seen in 1920's and 1930's dramas, but a loving one. Who also is very kind to "Cynthia", even though she supposes the female aviator is having an affair with her husband.

"Monica" is showing signs of being suicidal and this deeply worries her mother. While "Christopher" and "Cynthia" acknowledge they're deeply in love with each other, but also agree that the affair has to stop and they go their separate ways. "Elaine" sees the end of their good-bye, but not hearing what was said. She believes that confirms they're having an affair.






















Meanwhile, "Cynthia" has joined a round the world air race leaving from New York City. The suicidal "Monica" tells "Cynthia" that "Harry" is divorced, but he refuses to marry her. 

The air race leaves from New York toward Europe, and when "Cynthia" lands in San Francisco.  She receives a call from "Christopher", that he was on a British government mission to Washington D.C., and is now in New York City, awaiting her return. Their reunion is passionate, telling him, she did not want to die without knowing love.

Back home from the States, "Monica" tells her father that she and "Harry" are together again and want to be married. "Christopher" gives his blessing, but "Elaine" refuses to go to the registry office with the couple.

Six months later, "Christopher" and "Cynthia" meet at an out-of-the-way inn. It so happens that "Monica" and "Harry" have used the same inn, and are there. They overhear the couple, and without the other two knowing they were there, leave.





"Monica" breaks the news to her parents that "Harry" and her are expecting a baby. Even "Lady Strong" is happy for her daughter and "Harry", in a reunited family.


































Now, the audience comes to that ending that wouldn't have been permitted under the 1934, "Motion Picture Production Code".

"Cynthia" does not tell "Christopher" that she is pregnant with his child. Instead, she writes him that her plan is to break the world-altitude- record of 33,000 feet, and not come back

She adds:
Courage can conquer even love.
























Climbing, the altimeter reads 34,000 feet, crying, "Cynthia" takes off her oxygen mask, attempts to put it back on, passes out, and the plane crash dives into the ground.

The film closes, showing a winged statue in London, honoring her.

As far as the production code went, the idea of committing suicide was never to be mentioned. The act of suicide by the "Hayes Censorship Office" was considered immoral and an on-screen depiction might affect a member of the viewing audience adversely. Starting in 1934, suicide in a story, even if it was in a major novel like "Christopher Strong", must be changed in a screenplay to either an accident, or someone else causing the character's death. Look up the Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr, 1938, "Algiers", and here the suicide was by a pregnant woman.



Back in 1932, "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer" took almost every major name contract player on the lot and put them into "Grand Hotel", about the guests staying at the Berlin hotel. As of this writing, "Grand Hotel", is the only motion picture to win the "Academy Award for Best Picture", without ever being nominated in any other category. 

So, one-year-later, "MGM" attempted to do the same type of story in a different setting, a dinner party. "DINNER AT EIGHT", premiered in New York City on August 23, 1933. It was based on a play by George S. Kaufman and authoress, Edna Ferber. Although the feature film wasn't nominated for any "Academy Awards". When the final worldwide box office was in, it made $998,000 - 1933 dollars. Billie Burke had 8th-billing as "Millicent Jordan", described as a scatterbrained high society woman that was hosting a dinner party. A type of character that Billie would be identified with in several major comedies.





Left to right on the above poster for the movie, Lionel Barrymore, Lee Tracy, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Jean Harlow, John Barrymore, Billie Burke, with her picture in 7th position, and Edmund Lowe.

Below, Billie Burke portraying "Millicent Jordan", with Lionel Barrymore portraying her husband, "Oliver Jordan", the host and hostess of the dinner party.













































Late in 1933, Billie Burke Ziegfeld wanted to clear all the remaining debts the family had and sold the rights to a biographical motion picture on the life of her husband to "Universal Pictures". The family's debts were cleared, but the bio-pic fell through. More on that when I reach 1936.

On January 4, 1934, the "Ziegfeld Follies of 1934", opened at the "Winter Garden Theatre", 1634 Broadway, at 50th Street. The production was produced by Billie Burke Ziegfeld and ran through June 9, 1934. 







I move forward to 1935, Billie Burke had appeared in seven-feature films in supporting roles after "Dinner at Eight". Now she appeared in the first motion picture with the improved, Three-Strip-Technicolor process.

BECKY SHARP premiered in New York City on June 13, 1935




The historical drama was based upon William Makepeace Thackeray's novel, first serialized in "Vanity Fair" magazine, 1847 - 1848. Next, turned into a 1899 play by Langdon Elwyn Mitchell.

This screenplay was written by Francis Edward (Edwards) Faragoh, 1931's, "Little Caesar", and same years, "Frankenstein". 

The motion picture was directed by Rouben Mamoulian, torch singer Helen Morgan's, 1929 sound, "Applause", Fredric March's, 1931, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", and Greta Garbor's, 1933, "Queen Christina".

Miriam Hopkins portrayed "Becky Sharp". She was "Ivy" in Mamoulian's, 1931, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", she had just been seen in the comedy-romance, 1934's, "The Richest Girl in the World", with Joel McCrea and Fay Wray. Hopkins followed this feature film with 1935's, "Barbary Coast", co-starring with Edward G. Robinson and Joel McCrea.


























Francis Dee portrayed "Amelia Sedley". She portrayed "Meg March", in the 1933 version of authoress Louisa May Alcott's, "Little Women", starring Kathryn Hepburn. Dee had just co-starred with Bette Davis, and Leslie Howard, in the 1934 version of W. Somerset Maughn's, "Of Human Bondage". Yet, she may be best known for the Val Newton produced, Curt Siodmak written, Jacques Tourneur directed, horror film, 1943's, "I Walk with a Zombie".


























Sir Cedric Hardwicke portrayed "Marquis of Steyne". Sir Cedric had just portrayed "Bishop Bienvenue", co-starring with Fredric March and Charles Laughton, in the 1935 version of French author Victor Hugo's, "Les Miserables". In 1936, he was in one of only two motion pictures written by British author, H.G. Wells, "Things to Come".


























Billie Burke portrayed "Lady Bareacres". Billie Burke also had 4th-billing, just before this feature film, in the 1935 crime-comedy, "After Office Hours", starring Constance Bennett and Clark Gable. She would follow this feature film with the next film I will mention.


























The Basic Screenplay:

"Napoleon" has been defeated at Waterloo, a lower class British entertainer, "Becky Sharp", starts her own campaign to gain social status. Through her best friend, "Amelia Sedley", "Becky" learns how to praise rich men, and move up in class using them. 

The men "Becky Sharp" uses are the "Marquis of Stetyne", "Joseph Sedley", portrayed by Nigel Bruce, "Rawdon Crawley", portrayed by Alan Mowbray, and "George Osborn", played by G.P. Huntley, Jr, who has become "Amelia's" husband.

The social climbing "Becky Sharp" makes one mistake on her way to social status, and "Amelia" can't help her now. 



























"Sharp's mistake is that she makes an enemy of "Lady Bareacres", one very influential member of the higher social society she wanted to be a part of. 






















"Becky Sharp" finds herself back in a pub, singing and waiting tables to the lower classes she had escaped from. However, she still is trying to con men and fate is own her side. She lands "Amelia's" brother, "Joseph", and her future has changed once more.

Back in 1915, Florenz Ziegfeld hired a vaudeville comedian, or perhaps humorous social commentator was a better description. His name was Willam Penn Adair Rodgers, but was billed simply as Will Rodgers. 





Now, twenty-years later, in 1935, Mrs. Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. was co-starring in a motion picture with the man her husband made a worldwide star.

DOUBTING THOMAS released on July 10, 1935





Will Rodgers portrayed "Thomas Brown". He would only have two more films released in 1935, and both came after his tragic death on August 15, 1935. They were "Steamboat Round the Bend", September 6, 1935, and "In Old Kentucky", on November 28, 1935.

Billie Burke portrayed "Paula Thomas". Along with Will, the two did a 1935 radio version of "Doubting Thomas".





















A Hollywood Agent visits a small town where several of the citizens dream of becoming actors. One is "Paula Thomas", who was set to go into small town theatre, but instead married "Thomas". Their daughter, "Peggy", portrayed by Francis Grant, wants to be an actress, but Dad forbids it. Mother and daughter now plan to make their same dream come true and get around Dad.

















However, when Mom starts to neglect Dad for her stage and screen aspirations. Dad decides to make a point and become an actor too.


























The following year saw Billie Burke appearing in three motion pictures, and producing, with the Schuberts, the "Ziegfeld Follies of 1936", once again at the "Winter Garden Theatre", from January 30, 1936 through May 9, 1936.

Competing with the Winter Garden live production was the "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer" motion picture "The Great Ziegfeld", that had two premiers, Los Angeles on March 22, 1936, and in New York City, on April 18, 1936.




Going back to 1933, the original screenplay for "Universal Pictures" was being written by William Anthony McGuire and co-written by Billie Burke. Pre-production started in January 1934, and 
William Powell was hired to portray "Ziegfeld", but by February 1935, McGuire and "Universal Pictures" were in conflict over financial problems at the studio. The entire production and the already constructed sets were sold to "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer". "MGM" also picked-up William Powell's contract to portray Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. By 1936, Carl Laemmle, founder and owner of "Universal Pictures" was removed during a hostile takeover.

Filming at "MGM" started on April 8, 1935 and was completed on December 5,. 1935. The "Roadshow" version seen at the two premieres, had a running time of three-hours-and-five minutes. The "General Audience" running time was two-hours-and-fifty-seven-minutes.

The most glaring change to the screenplay was that the name of Billie Burke Ziegfeld had been removed. Additionally, she asked "Metro" to let her play herself in the motion picture. The answer she received was that she was "too old". Actress Billie Burke was not even offered an uncredited role in the biography of her husband. She would be portrayed by Myrna Loy, William Powell's co-star in the continuing "The Thin Man" series. The storyline about Anna Held, portrayed by Louise Rainer, was cleaned-up for audiences. While, Lillian Lorraine, becomes the incidental, fictional character of alcoholic showgirl, "Audrey Dane", portrayed by Virginia Bruce. Who Florenz Ziegfeld helps with her alcohol addiction.


In 1937, Billie Burke appeared in the first of three-motion pictures in one of the two film-roles she is most identified with.

TOPPER released July 16, 1937





The motion picture was produced by the uncredited Hal Roach. However, he does get credit in a gimmick of the 1930's, as "The Presenter" of the motion picture.

The story was based upon the novel 1926, novel, "Topper", by humorous supernatural fantasy novelist, Thorne Smith.

It took three writers to turn the novel into a screenplay. They were Jack Jevne, a writer for Hal Roach's comedies going back to 1919, Eric Hatch, the William Powell and Carole Lombard, 1936, "My Man Godfrey", and Eddie Moran, comedy shorts since 1923.


The motion picture was directed by Norman Z. McLeod, the Marx Brothers, 1932, "Horse Feathers", and the live, all-star, 1933, version of British author Lewis Carroll's, "Alice in Wonderland".


Constance Bennett portrayed "Marian Kerby". She had just co-starred with Janet Gaynor and Loretta Young, in 1936's, "Ladies in Love". She followed this motion picture with the next one I will be mentioning. Constance Bennett repeated her role of "Marian Kerby", in 1938's, "Topper Takes a Trip".

Cary Grant portrayed "George Kerby". He had portrayed, in a costume designed by William Cameron Menzies, the "Mock-Turtle", in 1933's, "Alice in Wonderland". Cary Grant would follow this motion picture with 1937's, "The Toast of New York".

Roland Young portrayed "Cosmo Topper". In 1936, Young starred in one of the only two screenplays written by British author H.G. Wells, "The Man Who Could Work Miracles". He had just co-starred with Sir Cedric Hardwicke, in the 1937 version, of British author H. Rider Haggard's, "King Solomon's Mines", also co-starring African-American singer, Paul Robeson. Young would repeat his role of "Cosmo Topper", in 1938's, "Topper Takes a Trip", and 1941's, "Topper Returns".






Above on the floor, Roland Young, Gary Grant and Constance Bennett.

Billie Burke portrayed "Mrs. Clara Topper". She had just appeared in the biography, "Parnell", starring Clark Gable, and Myrna Loy, and would follow this feature film with the Joan Crawford, Franchot Tone, and Robert Young, 1937, "The Bride Wore Red". Billie Burke repeated her role of "Clara Topper", in both the "Topper" sequels.



























I am giving my reader a set-up for "Topper". This classic comedy must be seen and not just described in writing. The attached link will take you to the feature film:


"Cosmo Topper" is the head of a bank and lives a regimented life as the above picture indicates with "Cosmo" looking at his watch. While, rich clients of the bank, "George" and "Marian Kerby" are the very opposite and freewheeling. One day, driving his new sports car, "George" has an accident killing both of "Marian" and himself. The "Kerby's" realize they're not in heaven, they're not good enough, but they're not in hell either, they're not bad enough. The two are now ghosts, "Cosmo" on a whim, buys "George's" repaired sports car. Which leads him to meet the ghosts of "Marian" and "George Kerby". Who now have a reason for their ghostly existence, turn "Cosmo Topper" into a fun loving guy and end his regimented lifestyle.
























































Billie Burke is hilarious as "Cosmo's" social climbing, a little ditsy, loving wife, but is thinking her husband is going insane. Because of the way he's acting in his attempts to stop the fun loving "Kerby's".

























































Billie Burke appeared in five motion pictures between 1937's, "Topper", and 1938's, "Topper Takes a Trip" and I've picked out two.

EVERYBODY SING released on February 4, 1938



 

Allan Jones portrayed "Ricky Saboni". In 1936, Jones portrayed "Gaylord Ravenal" in director James Whale's, yes that Whale, who directed 1931's, "Frankenstein", 1933's, "The Invisible Man", and 1935's, "Bride of Frankenstein ", outstanding version of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's, "Show Boat". Jones had just appeared opposite Jeanette MacDonald, in 1937's, "The Firefly", and followed this movie with 1939's, "Honeymoon in Bali", co-starring with Fred MacMurray and Madeleine Carroll. 

Judy Garland portrays "Judy Bellaire". This movie comes in the middle of the Judy Garland and
Mickey Rooney, "Andy Hardy" filmsand their musicals together. Judy and Mickey had just been in 1937's, "Thoroughbreds Don't Cry", co-starring the great, Sophie Tucker. My article is "Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney: Their Movies Together" at:






















Above, Allan Jones and Judy Garland.


Fanny Brice portrayed "Olga Chekaloff". Brice had been one of the stars of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr's. "Follies". This was the sixth of her only seven on-screen appearances. Her last would be, 1945's, "Ziegfeld Follies", basically "MGM" making a movie to showcase their singers and dancers under contract. William Powell was back as "Ziegfeld", dead and looking down from heaven on the production.


























Billie Burke portrayed "Diana Bellaire". Billie had just been in 1937's, "Navy Blue and Gold", starring Robert Young, James Stewart, and Lionel Barrymore. She would follow this picture with the next movie I want to mention.

Reginald Gardiner portrayed "Jerrold Hope". He had just been seen in the Fred Astaire, George Burns and Gracie Allen, and Joan Fontaine, 1937, "Damsel in Distress". Gardiner followed this motion picture with the Norma Shearer, Tyrone Power and John Barrymore, 1938, "Marie Antoinette".
























Above, Reginald Gardiner , Billie Burke, and Judy Garland.

Reginald Owen portrayed "Hillary Bellaire". He had just been in the Frank Morgan, Robert Young, and Mary Astor, 1938, "Paradise for Three", and followed this feature with the 1938 version of Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson's, "Kidnapped".





















Above, Reginald Gardiner, Reginald Owen, and Billie Burke


Lynne Carver portrayed "Sylvia Bellaire". She had appeared in the, 1937,  Joan Crawford, Franchot Tone, and Robert Young, "The Bride Wore Red", that featured Billie Burke. Lynne Carver followed this motion picture with 1938's, "Young Dr. Kildare", she repeated her role of "Alice Raymond", in 1939's, "Calling Dr. Kildare", both films starred Lew Ayres.




























Above the sisters, Lynne Carver and Judy Garland


The Basic Screenplay:

This is a perfect reflection of the time and the music, but the story is disappointing.

It starts with the problems of "Judy" fitting into an exclusive private school. She's into "Jazz" and that type of music is ruining the lives of young people according to the adults that run the school, my reader may substitute Rock and Roll, and Hip-Hop for Jazz. "Judy" is expelled for singing jazz, after she bursts into the song "Swing Mr. Mendelssohn, Swing".




















What happens next is the audience meets a dysfunctional family and a chance for "Judy Bellaire" to prove herself to her frustrated playwright father, and "ditsy" mother. 

Many reviewers pan this movie, but to me the cast is outstanding and the film was designed not only to advance Judy Garland's career, but give the "Depression Era" audience a little relief from their troubles. The following link takes my reader to the website "The Judy Room", and a look at this feature film.










MERRILY WE LIVE premiered in Los Angeles on March 2, 1938





This screwball comedy may have starred Constance Bennett, and British leading man, Brian Aherne. Who was next seen as "Maximillian von Habsburg", opposite Bette Davis, and Paul Muni, in 1939's, "Juarez".

However, it was 4th-billed, Billie Burke, that was nominated for the "Best Supporting Actress Academy Award", portraying the eccentric "Mrs. Emily Kilbourne".


































Above left to right, the family minus dad, Billie Burke as "Emily Kilbourne", Tom Brown as "Kane Kilbourne", Constance Bennett as "Geraldine 'Jerry' Kilbourne", and Bonita Granville as
"Marion Kilbourne". Below, dad, "Henry Kilbourne", portrayed by Clarence Kolb.




























The Basic screenplay:


Below, Brian Aherne as a "Tramp named Wade Rawlins", claims his car broke down and he's looking for ride when "Jerry" came along.


















































































Above left to right, Billie Burke, Alan Mowbray as "Grosvenor the Butler", and Brian Ahern. "Emily" decides to help "Wade" and makes him her new chauffeur. While, "Henry" wants this new tramp tossed out of the house and his wife to stop taking in every hobo she meets. 

Later, after "Grosvenor" helps "Wade" to clean-up. "Wade" is alone in the room, and the new chauffeur appears to be talking to himself. Making some of the family think he might be crazy.

































The story becomes a comedy of errors and comes to a head when "Emily" is holding a dinner party for
"Senator Willie Harlan", portrayed by Paul Everton, and has trained "Wade" to be the footman to greet the guests. However, due to a prank played by "Marion", instead of being the footman for the guests, "Wade Rawlins" is invited to the party. Where two things take place, the first, the senator likes him and he becomes a personal confident of "Senator Harlan". The second, is that the senator's daughter, "Minerva", portrayed by Ann Dvorak, "Francesca 'Cesca' Camonte" in 1932's, "Scarface", becomes infatuated with "Wade". Giving "Jerry" competition, because, of course, she is falling in love with the "Tramp/Chauffeur/Footman".






























The zaniness continues in this Hal Roach classic and I will not reveal anything more.  As of this writing, Billie Burke's "Oscar" nominated role will be found at the following link.



Immediately after 1938's, "Topper Takes a Trip", Billie Burke found herself in a motion picture that producer Hal Roach purchased the screenplay for Roland Young. Why Young was not in the feature film, I could not determine. Instead, Roach replaces Roland Young with Oliver Hardy, but without Stan Laurel over a contract dispute the comedian. Instead of having a "Team Contract" for "Laurel and Hardy", Hal Roach, as a means of control, had individual contracts and the reason for the dispute. As a result, Roach used comedian Harry Langdon in the role that would have been Stan Laurel's.

The motion picture was:

ZENOBIA released on April 21, 1939




The motion picture's director was Gordon Douglas, who would direct the classic 1954, science fiction, "THEM!". Douglas started with directing both the "Little Rascals" and "Our Gang" comedies for Hal Roach. He also directed Bela Lugosi, in 1945's, "Zombies on Broadway".

Oliver Hardy portrayed "Doctor 'Doc' Tibbett". He had just co-starred with Stan Laurel, in 1938's, "Blockheads", and followed this movie with the next Laurel and Hardy feature, 1939's, "The Flying Deuces".

Harry Langdon portrayed "Professor McCrackle". Langdon was just in the comedy short, 1938, "Sue My Lawyer", and followed this feature film with a 1940, comedy short, "Goodness! A Ghost".
























Billie Burke portrayed "Mrs. Tibbett". She would follow this motion picture with 7th-billing, in the Annabella and Robert Young, 1939, comedy-romance, "Bridal Suite".

































Above left to right, Jean Parker as "Mary Tibbett", "Beth March" in 1933's, "Little Women", James Ellison as "Jeff Carter", he was one of the side-kicks for "Hopalong Cassidy", but was also in 1943's, "I Walk with a Zombie", Oliver Hardy as "Doc Tibbetts", and Billie Burke as "Mrs. Tibbetts".

The motion picture didn't do well without Stan Laurel. "The New York Times" for May 15, 1939, described the picture as a:
...[was] a rough idea of what would happen to Gone With the Wind if Hal Roach had produced it ... an antebellum, costume romance in slapstick, in which an elephant adopts Oliver Hardy and, it appears, Harry Langdon has adopted the partnership perquisites formerly reserved for Stan Laurel.

Speaking of 1939's, "Gone with the Wind", director George Cukor, offered Billie Burke the role of "Aunt Pittypat Hamilton", but she declined it. The role went to actress Laura Hope Crews, whom Cukor, according to Steve Wilson, 2014's, "The Making of Gone with the Wind", was told to portray the role as if Billie Burke was playing it.




On June 11, 1939, Patrica Ziegfeld married dance instructor and home designer of Ronald and Nancy Reagan's "General Electric" house, William Robert Stephenson.


After filming 1939's, "Bridal Suite", the next film for Billie Burke was located "Somewhere Over the Rainbow":

THE WIZARD OF OZ premiered in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on August 10, 1939


 
  


The screenplay was based upon the 1900, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", written by L. Frank Blum, seen below in 1911.






















Below is the special edition of the novel that was released in conjunction with the motion picture. This book, as of this writing, in fine/near fine condition, is available for purchase for only $2,250.00.



















The screenplay had one-credited adapter of the novel, three-credited writers, and fifteen-uncredited contributing writers.

The motion picture was directed by Victor Fleming, with the exception of the opening and closing sequences in Kansas, which were directed by King Vidor. Victor Fleming was a busy director, from October 13, 1938 to March 16, 1939, he directed this feature film. However, there was a bit of director double duty for Fleming. From December 10, 1938 to November 11, 1939, Victor Fleming was directing another feature film, a little movie entitled, "Gone with the Wind". Giving him three-months of overlap to balance. We know there were two other directors assisting Fleming, George Cukor, and Sam Wood, with uncredited directing on "GWTW". Actually, that number should be three, because the three directors, Fleming, Cukor, and Wood, refused to direct the burning of Atlanta, the was filmed against old sets on the "MGM" lot actually being burned. That sequence was directed by William Cameron Menzies, the credited  production designer for "GWTW", and uncredited second unit director.


The Main Cast:

Judy Garland portrayed "Dorthy Gale". She had just co-starred with Freddie Bartholomew and Mary Astor, in 1938's, "Listen, Darling". After returning to Kansas from "The Merry Ole Land of Oz", Judy Garland teamed with Mickey Rooney, in 1939's, "Babes in Arms".



























Frank Morgan portrayed "Professor Marvel/The Gatekeeper/The Carriage Driver/The Guard/The Wizard of Oz". Morgan had just been in 1939's, "Broadway Serenade", starring Jeanette MacDonald, he followed this feature film starring in the comedy-western, 1939's, "Henry Goes Arizona".

























Ray Bolger portrayed "Hunk/The Scarecrow". Bolger had just been in the Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, and Frank Morgan, 1938, "Sweethearts". He followed this motion picture co-starring with Anne Neagle and John Carrol, in 1941's, "Sunny".




























Bert Lahr portrayed "Zeke/The Cowardly Lion". He had co-starred with Claudette Colbert and Herbert Marshall in 1938's, "Zaza". Lahr followed this feature film by starring in 1942's, "Sing Your Worries Away", co-staring with June Havoc and Buddy Ebsen.





























Which brings me to "The Tin Man". Anyone who has watched this motion picture knows what the "Tin Man" looks like. However, they may not know that they're looking at "Tin Man 2.0". Dancer, singer, actor Buddy Ebsen was the original "Tin Man", but he had an allergic reaction to the make-up which put him in the hospital and out of the role. The make-up was changed for the character. Below is a still of Buddy Ebsen from the footage shot prior to his allergic reaction. Also, note Judy Garland's look in this original footage.

















































My article is "BUDDY EBSEN: From the 'Baby Astaire's' to 'Davy Crockett" at:



Jack Haley now portrayed "Hickory/The Tin Man". Haley had just co-starred with Adolphe Menjou and Jack Oakie, in the 1938 comedy, "Thanks for Everything". He would follow this motion picture with the 1941, musical-comedy, "Moon Over Miami", starring Don Ameche, Betty Grable, and Robert Cummings.
























Billie Burke portrayed "Glinda the Good Witch of the North". After this motion picture, Billie Burke appeared in the 1939, comedy-drama-romance, "Eternally Yours", starring Loretta Young and David Niven.






























Margaret Hamilton was "Wicked", portraying "Miss Almira Gulch/The Wicked Witch of the West". In 1960, Margaret Hamilton portrayed "Elaine Zacharides", also seen below, in producer-director William Castle's, original, "13 Ghosts". She is the housekeeper/spiritualist-medium for the "Zorba" family, she came with the house, that "Cyrus Zorba" inherited from his newly dead uncle, and 12th Ghost, occultist and ghost collector, "Plato Zorba". Hamilton and Castle were having fun with this character by playing off "The Wicked Witch" from this motion picture. It's a classic characterization that only Margaret Hamilton could have pulled off.
















































Terry portrayed "Toto". She appeared in 23-movies, this was her 7th since the Richard Arlen and Ida Lupino comedy-romance, 1934's, "Ready for Love".






















The Basic Story:

The opening and closing are in sepia tone, as the audience meets "Dorothy Gale" and her dog "Toto", her "Uncle Henry", portrayed by Charley Grapewin", and "Auntie Em", portrayed by Clara Blandick. They're on a depression era Kansas farm with hired hands, "Hunk", "Zeke", and "Hickory". 






























"Dorothy" dreams of a better place that is ----








However, the farms neighbor "Almira Gulch" shows up with a warrant to take possession of "Toto" who bit her.
































"Almira" places "Toto" in a basket on her bicycle and drives away, but "Toto" gets out and returns to "Dorothy".






























"Dorothy" runs away with "Toto" to protect him and comes across a charlatan fortune teller by the name of "Professor Marvel". He convinces "Dorothy" to return to the farm and the people who love her.
































"Dorothy" heads back home, but a tornado comes and she can't get into the locked storm cellar where the others are and goes into the house. The house is lifted off the ground and "Dorothy" looks out the window and first sees "Almira" on her bicycle. Next, as "Dorothy" watches, "Amira" turns into a witch on a broom stick.





Suddenly, the tornado drops the farm house and it hits the ground. As "Dorothy" and "Toto" exit the house, the motion picture turns into Technicolor, and "Dorothy" tells "Toto" that:
We're not in Kansas anymore!

Next, a bubble floats down from the sky with "Glinda, the Good Witch of the North" in it. 
































"Glinda" asks "Dorothy":

Are you a Good Witch, or a Bad Witch?

"Dorothy" replies that she's not a witch and that witches are all ugly. At which point, "Dorothy" hears giggling, and "Glinda" responds that she is a witch, the witch of the North. Next, "Dorothy" asks who's giggling, and is told they are "The Munchkins", and she is in "Munchkin Land". "Glinda" tells the "Munchkins" to come out and meet the girl who fell from "A Star Called Kansas", and has killed "The Wicked Witch of the East". 






























After the witch of the East is certified as really, really, dead, the "Munchkins" break out into singing that the "Witch is Dead" in joyful chorus.




























The happy scene is broken up by the arrival of "The Wicked Witch of the West". Who sees just her sister's feet are showing with the rest of her under the house. Then turning, she demands to know who killed her sister, "The Wicked Witch of the East"?






































Before the "Wicked Witch of the West" can get the "Ruby Slippers, (In the novel the slippers are silver, but "MGM" wanted something to compliment Technicolor and they became "Ruby Red"), "Glinda" magically has some placed on "Dorothy's" feet. The "Witch of the West" attempts to get the "Ruby Slippers" off of "Dorothy Gale's" feet, but without success.















"The Wicked Witch" has no power in Munchkin Land, but before leaving she tells "Dorothy":

I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too! 















The following link will take my reader, at the time of this writing, to the actual sequence from the motion picture. 

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7u5kuv


As anyone who knows the movie, "Dorothy" is told the perhaps "The Great and Powerful Oz" can help her get home. So, she told to just "Follow the Yellow Brick Road".




As Billie Burke appears in only one other sequence before the last one in "Oz". I will be moving fast over the events that follow "Dorothy" on "The Yellow Brick Road".

"Dorothy" comes to a point with two branches in the road and she must decide which way to go. Speaking to "Toto", she hears a voice make a suggestion as to what way she might go. "Dorothy" turns toward the voice and only sees a scarecrow, but she's in "Oz" and realizes he is speaking to her.
















Learning that the scarecrow wants a brain, she suggests he join her to see "The Wizard of Oz". 
















Continuing down the road, "Dorothy" and the "Scarecrow" come to a rusted "Tin Man", but he is able to tell them to get his oil can. They oil his joints, freeing him from the position rusted him into.






The "Tin Man" has an empty chest and wants a heart. "Dorothy" and the "Scarecrow" suggest that the "Tin Man" come with them to see the "Wizard". Next, "Dorothy", the "Scarecrow", and the "Tin Man" come to a dark and frightening looking forest with the "Yellow Brick Road" running right through it.

As they enter the forest, the three start to worry about, "Lions, Tigers, and Bears".

Suddenly, a fearsome looking lion appears and frightens them. However, it doesn't take long for the other three to realize the lion is a coward. It is suggested that he join them to see if the "Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz" can give him courage and now the four friends continue down the "Yellow Brick Road". However, they are being watched by the evil "Witch of the West".


















The four friends see the towers of "The Emerald City" just beyond a field of poppies and enter the flowers. However, the "Witch of the West" has cast a spell upon the poppies and as the four friends walk into them, they start to fall asleep. "Glinda, the Good Witch of the North" appears and causes it to snow on the poppies, breaking the "Witch of the West's" spell.























There are many articles about the fact that the snow used in this sequence was 100% asbestos and complaining about its use. From the first silent movie with a snow falling scene, asbestos has been used, because it looks like real falling snow. On March 18, 2024, the Biden Administration passed a law to phase out certain types of asbestos. Until that law, nothing was ever done about stopping the use of the cancer causing material.


After the snow is stopped, and the four friends wake-up, they continue to "The Emerald City".





At the door to enter "The Emerald City", the four are refused entry by "The Gatekeeper". Who wants to know why they're ringing the bell that is out of order and not knocking? Then he realizes the sign telling them the bell doesn't work is not out. So, he puts it out, and closes the door. Not explaining how he heard the "out of order bell" in the first place. Next, the four knock on the door, he answers and slams it on them,




Eventually, when he hears her name, and asks, "The Witches Dorothy?". Things suddenly change and they're let in. 






They ride to the "Wizard's" chamber with "A Horse of a Different Color".







However, "The Guard" at the "Wizard's" door is refusing the four entry, but upon hearing "Dorothy's" story. He goes to tears over it and lets them in to meet the "Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz".





The "Wizard" tells the four, he will grant their wishes, IF they bring him the "Broomstick" of the "Witch of the West". Then ends their audience with him.

The four friends start their journey to the witch's castle.





"The Witch of the West" gives orders to the leader of her flying monkey's.






The flying monkey's attack and "Dorothy" and "Toto" are captured.





Under the leadership of "The Scarecrow", "The Tin Man", and "The Cowardly Lion" go to the castle, knock out three guards, and enter it disguised  as them.





The three friends find "Dorothy", but are captured by the guards and taken to the witch. She taunts them and sets fire to "The Scarecrow's" arm. "Dorothy" grabs a pail with water in it and tosses the water on the burning arm. However, the water also hits the "Witch of the West" and she starts to scream as the witch shrinks to nothing.







The witch's guard's at first frighten "Dorothy", but then bow to her for freeing them of the "WICKED WITCH!" The captain of the guards presents "Dorothy" with the witch's broomstick.






The four friends and "Toto" enter the audience chamber for the "Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz". To their surprise, "Oz" tells them to return tomorrow, upset the four turn to go, but "Toto" pulls back the curtain behind the face of "The Wizard of Oz" to reveal a man.





When asked as to who he is? He responds:
The Great and Powerful ---

adding in a timid voice:

Wizard of Oz!

He admits to be a "humbug", but presents "The Scarecrow", "The Tin Man", and "The Cowardly Lion" with tokens that represent what each wanted, but ads that each possessed what they wished for and proved it rescuing "Dorothy".

However, "Dorothy" knows he has nothing that return her to Kansas and "Auntie Em", but "The Wizard" reveals he is a Kansas man that came to "Oz" in his hot air balloon and the two will return in it. "Dorothy" and "Toto" are in the balloon with the "Wizard" as the people of "The Emerald City" gather to watch. Suddenly, "Toto" jumps out and "Dorothy" follows, but the balloon has been set free and there is no way for her to get back in.

"Glinda, the Good Witch of the North" appears to tell "Dorothy" she has had her way back all along with "The Ruby Slippers", but she needed to believe in them and now if "Dorothy" taps the slippers together three-times, she will return home. The complete "There's no place like Home" sequence, as of this writing, is at the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWliUYDpO5U



 

 





The movie turn back to sepia tones as "Dorothy" awakes from having been knocked unconscious by the tornado to find everyone around her.









On March 8, 1940, Billie Burke co-starred with Frank Morgan and Ann Rutherford, in the comedy-romance, "The Ghost Comes Home". 





Left to right front, Frank Morgan as "Vern Adams", believed dead from a boat sinking he never was on. Instead, he was arrested for 60 days over a night club incident. Billie Burke as his wife, "Cora Adams", who cashed the "dead" Vern's life insurance. Left to right standing, Ann Rutherford as their daughter, "Billie Adams", and John Shelton as "Larry Shea", "Billie's" boyfriend.

At this point in her film career, Billie Burke had become a character actress. I move forward eight motion picture to a classic comedy that she had a small, but important role.

THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER premiered both in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 24, 1941




Bette Davis was the force behind bringing the George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart stage play to the motion picture screen. She wanted a change of pace in her work, having filmed the heavy drama, 1941's, "The Little Foxes". She wanted John Barrymore to play title character, "Sheridan Whiteside" and Jack L. Warner gave him a screen test. He was considered unsuitable by producer Hal B. Wallis, as he kept forgetting his lines. At the time Barrymore was drinking heavily and showing signs of Alzheimers, but Davis kept demanding he get the role. Others considered, over Bette Davis's protests, were Orson Welles, Laird Cregar, and even Cary Grant. The one person being avoided was the Broadway originator of the role that Davis had seen, Monty Woolley. He would get the role, but Wallis was worried that the "Hays Censorship Office", might object if his homosexuality became too obvious.

The play was rewritten for the screen by the Epstein brothers, Philip and Julius, 1941's, "The Strawberry Blonde", 1942's, "Casablanca", 1943 propaganda documentaries, "The Battle of Britain"and "The Battle of Russia", plus 1944's, "Arsenic and Old Lace".

The Cast on the Above Poster:

Bette Davis portrayed "Maggie Cutler". She followed this picture co-starring with Olivia de Havilland, in 1942's, "In This Our Life".





Ann Sheridan portrayed "Lorraine Sheldon". She had just been seen in the comedy-musical-romance, 1941's, "Navy Blues". Sheridan was next seen in the controversial, 1942's, "Kings Row", co-starring Ronald Reagan and Robert Cummings, in a not directly implied homosexual relationship.





Monty Woolley portrayed "Sheridan Whiteside". This was the actor's twentieth motion picture, but Hal B. Wallis was worried how he would look on-screen. Woolley had last been seen in 1939's, "The Dancing Co-Ed", starring Lana Turner, Richard Carlson, and Artie Shaw and His Band. His next feature film was starring in the Second World War drama, 1942's, "The Pied Piper". 






Jimmy Durante portrayed "Banjo". Durante had just been in Gene Autrey's, 1940, "B' western, "Melody Ranch", and next co-starred with Phil Silvers and Jane Wyman, in 1941's, "You're in the Army Now".






Richard Travis portrayed "Bert Jefferson". This was the high point of Travis's acting career and after this picture he became a "B" actor. Among his later films in the even lower-budgeted remake of the 1953 science fiction, "Cat-Women of the Moon", 1958's, "Missile to the Moon".





Billie Burke portrayed "Mrs. Daisy Stanley". Billie had just been in the Fred MacMurray and Madeleine Carroll, 1941, "One Night in Lisbon", and followed this feature film with "The Andrew Sisters" musical-comedy, 1942's, "What's Cookin".







Reginald Gardner portrayed "Beverly Carlton". He had just been in the Gene Tierney, Bruce Cabot, and George Sanders,  1941's, "Sundown", and followed this feature with James Cagney's, 1942, "Captains of the Clouds".






The plot has a famous talk radio host come to dinner at the "Stanley" household as part of a publicity stunt. Problem for the family is that "Whiteside" slips on the ice on the steps leading to the house. He insists on staying at their home to recuperate during the Christmas holiday. The family agrees, but "Whiteside" now becomes a problem and gets himself involved in family matters and demands servitude from the "Stanley's". At the end when he is finally leaving and out of his wheelchair, he becomes distracted and slips on the icy steps again and is brought back into the house.

Probably today's viewer, and most of the 1941 movie audience, wouldn't recognize the character parodies that playwrights George Kaufman and Moss Hart waived into some of the characters in their play. That was a Broadway play that opened on October 16, 1939, at the "Music Box Theatre", 239 West 45th Street, and ran into 1941, for 739-performances, starring Monty Woolley. 

As to the Kaufman and Hart parodies, for the record:

"Sheridan Whiteside" was Alexander Woollcott, drama critic and commentator for "The New Yorker" magazine and, also, had his own radio program. "Beverly Carlton" was English playwright, singer, composer. director, and actor, Noel Coward. "Banjo" was comedian, actor, mime artist, and harp player, "Harpo Marx". There was even a through away line that parodies Groucho and Chico Marx. Lorraine Sheldon was English actress, singer, and musical comedy performer, Gertrude Lawrence. While the character of "Harriet Stanley", portrayed by Ruth Vivian, was based upon axe murderess "Lizzie Borden", or more specifically "Harriet's" aka: "Harriet Sedley" persona.






Four more similar motion picture roles followed and brought Billie Burke to 1943 and some interesting career choices. That started out in an attempted return to Broadway in "This Rock", at the "Longacre Theatre", 220 West 48th Street. The show had a very short run from February 18, 1943, through March 20, 1943, for a total of only 23-performances. 




 

Next came "The Billie Burke Show", an old-time-radio-situation-comedy, on the "Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)", from April 3 1943, through September 21, 1946. Billie played a character right out of 1938's,"Merrily We Live", but used her own name. This "Billie Burke" was helping hobos, children in need of a playground, and others for different reasons. The radio audience knew her as the small town spinster "in the little white house on Sunnyview Drive". The show had a theme song written by Jerome Kern and Buddy DeSylva, 1919's, "Look for the Silver Lining".






Billie Burke would make four motion pictures in 1943, the first was "Hi Diddle Diddle", and the following link, at the time of writing this article, takes my reader to that comedy. The feature film contains live action and animation from Leon Schlesinger's studio that was making both "Looney Tones" and "Merrie Melodies" for "Warner Brothers" at the time.






Front row, Dennis O'Keefe, Martha Scott, and Adolphe Menjou, to his left is Billie Burke. 


SO'S YOUR UNCLE initially released on September 1, 1943




Billie Burke starred in this entirely forgotten motion picture as "Aunt Minerva". However, there are two interesting co-stars with her and a major lawsuit against the studio over the picture. I'll start with her two co-stars.

Donald Woods portrayed "Steve Curtis" aka: "Uncle John". Although Woods's screen career started with the 1928, "Motorboat Mamas". He is best known for two motion pictures. The first was portraying "Navy Captain Phil Jackson", in stop-motion animator, Ray Harryhausen's, 1953, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", and he was "Cyrus Zorba", in producer - director William Castle's, original, 1960, "13 Ghosts".





Above, Billie Burke as "Aunt Minerva", and Donald Woods disguised as "Uncle John". I could not identify the actor portraying the police officer.


Elyse Knox portrayed "Patricia Williams". Although she portrayed "Anne Howe" in the six 1940's, "Joe Palooka" movies, as far as her movie career of 37-films goes. Elyse Knox is best remembered by fans of the "Universal Horror" movies, as "Isobel Evans", in 1942's, "The Mummy's Tomb", the first movie featuring Lon Chaney, Jr. as "Kharis". She is also known to sports fans as the wife of Heisman winner Tom Harmon and the mother of television's original "NCIS" star, Mark Harmon.





Above left to right, Billie Burke, Donald Woods, and Elyse Knox.

The Lawsuit:

The plot has "Steve Curtis" attempting to get away from his creditors, dressed as an older man. As he makes that get away, he is struck by a car driven by "Patricia Williams". She takes the really not badly injured "Curtis" to her home. Where his disguise as "Uncle John" becomes complicated with "Patricia's" wealthy "Aunt Minerva", who is falling for "Steve Curtis's" uncle. While, out of his disguise, "Steve" is falling in love with "Patricia".

Comedian Harold Lloyd now sued "Universal Pictures" and writer Clyde Buckman for coping sequences from Lloyd's, 1925, "The Freshman", 1929's, "Welcome Danger", and 1932, "Movie Crazy". The motion picture was immediately pulled from theaters. The court awarded Harold Lloyd, $60,000 for "Movie Crazy", and "Universal Pictures" settled with him for $100,000 for the other two films. Writer Buckman had worked on both "Welcome Danger", and "Movie Crazy".

"Universal Pictures" re-released "So's Your Uncle" on December 1, 1945.


On March 31, 1944, Billie Burke tried one last time to return to Broadway with "Mrs. January and Mr. X", at the "Belasco Theatre", 111 West 44th Street. The show closed early on May 6, 1944, and had co-starred actress Barbara Bel Geddes. Billie Burke would appear on some local Los Angeles area theater productions, but never again on Broadway.




Five motion pictures followed the Broadway production and included 1945's, "The Cheaters".




Above, the co-stars with Joseph Schildkraut, Billie Burke as "Clara Pidgeon" and Eugene Pallete as "James C. Pidgeon".

Another of the five was 1946's, "Breakfast in Hollywood".






Above left to right, Raymond Walburn as "Richard Cartwright", Billie Burke as "Mrs. Francis Cartwright", and Edward Ryan as "Ken Smith". 

There was also a 1948 short comedy, "Billie Gets Her Man".






Above left to right, Billie Burke as "Billie Baxter", Dick Wessel as "Mr. McGonagle",  Emil Sitka as "Wilbur Nixon", and Patsy Moran as "Patty - Billie's maid".



Next, Billie Burke found herself in a motion picture that was originally to star Judy Garland.


THE BARKLEY'S OF BROADWAY premiered in New York City on May 4, 1949






This was a look at a fictional musical team.

Fred Astaire portrayed "Josh Barkley". He had just co-starred with Judy Garland in 1948's, "Easter Parade". Fred Astaire followed this feature film with the 1950 musical, "Three Little Words".

Judy Garland had started filming, but was dropped because her addiction to anti-depressants was effecting her acting and memory.

Ginger Rodgers portrayed "Dinah Barkley", the role that had been written for Judy Garland. The casting of Rodgers, would turn the picture into a ten-year reunion for her and Astaire and their only movie in color.





Oscar Levant portrayed "Ezra Millar". Levant was a concert pianist, a composer, comedian, actor, and talk show host. He had just been in the mystery-comedy-musical, 1948's, "Romance on the High Seas", with a 4th-billed singer named Doris Day, he was 5th-billed. He followed this feature with 3rd-billing behind Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, in the classic 1951, musical, "An American in Paris".






Billie Burke portrayed "Mrs. Livingston Belney". She followed this feature film with 5th-billing in the Robert Young and Barbara Hale, 1949 comedy, "And Baby Makes Three".








In the two above stills is French actor, Jacques François portraying "Jacques Pierre Barredout", a French playwright who comes between "Josh" and "Dinah".


Billie Burke was to portray the mother-of-the-groom in a motion picture that would spawn a sequel, a 1961 television series, and forty-years after original movie, a remake of it.

FATHER OF THE BRIDE premiered in New York City on May 18, 1950





The screenplay was based upon a 1949 novel, "Father of the Bride", by Edward Streeter. The screenplay was co-written by Francis Goodrich, and her husband Albert Hackett, whose latest collaboration was 1949's, "In the Good Old Summertime". The couple received the 1956, "Pulitzer Prize for Drama", for turning "The Diary of Anne Frank" into a dramatic play. Which the couple adapted into the 1959 motion picture screenplay.

The motion picture was directed by Vicente Minnelli. Who had just directed Jennifer Jones, Van Heflin, and Louis Jourdan, in the 1949 drama, "Madame Bovary". 


Spencer Tracy portrayed "Stanley T. Banks". He had just co-starred with James Stewart, in 1949's, "Malaya". The actor followed this motion picture with its sequel.





Joan Bennett portrayed "Ellie Banks". My article is "Joan Bennett: 'Elizabeth Collins Stoddard' of 'Dark Shadows", available to sink your fangs in at:






Elizabeth Taylor portrayed "Kay Banks". My article is "The '7' Husbands of ELIZABETH TAYLOR" at:






Don Taylor portrayed "Buckley Dunstan". As an actor, Taylor's career, after this film's sequel, was primary on television, as were his directing assignments. However, he did direct the third entry in the original "Planet of the Apes" series, 1971's, "Escape from the Planet of the Apes". Along with the Burt Lancaster and Michale York, 1977 version, of British author H.G. Wells's, "The Island of Dr. Moreau", and the time traveling of a modern aircraft carrier back to December 6, 1941. That asked the question, should the modern aircraft carrier with its planes and armament, prevent the Pearl Harbor attack? This was the Kirk Douglas starring science fiction, 1980's, "The Final Countdown".






Billie Burke portrayed "Doris Dunstan". Billie just had 3rd-billing in the sports film, 1950's, "Boy from Indiana", and followed this film with the 1950 comedy, "Three Husbands".





Above, Billie Burke and Moroni Olsen portraying her character's husband, "Herbert Dunstan".


This is a classic comedy about the trials and tribulations of "The Father of the Bride".That starts after the wedding is over and is told in flashback. "Stanley Banks" knows nothing about his future son-in-law and his family. His imagined fear takes hold, there is a dream sequence, will his future son-in-law's family treat "Kay" as part of their family, or an outsider taking their son away from them? Speaking about that future son-in-law, does he have an income and can he support "Kay"? Simply put, "Stanley Banks" is in unnecessary panic mode, but both worries will be put aside. Starting with meeting his daughter's future husband and his parents.

The main cast returned in their roles in "Father's Little Dividend", that premiered in Los Angeles on April 13, 1951. 




The film was again directed by Vincent Minnelli, however his life was also in turmoil, starting on June 16, 1950. When, "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer" had suspended his wife, Judy Garland. Three-days after that, Judy attempted suicide by slashing her wrists. Production on this motion picture started in October, and on December 7, 1950, Vincent and Judy announced their separation. Sixteen-days  prior to the release of "Father's Little Dividend", on March 29, 1951, the divorce became final.

The screenplay was again written by husband and wife team, Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett. 







I have found several mentions that Billie Burke's failing memory led to her retirement in the late 1950's. 

While her ability to remember lines was starting to show after "Father's Little Dividend", according to the website "IMDb", between 1952 and 1960, Billie Burke had eleven more roles. Seven of these were on television, broken down to six on different anthology drama series and one on the "The Eddie Cantor Comedy Theater", in 1955. As I mentioned, Cantor became a star through "The Ziegfeld Follies".





The above information on Billie Burke's television appearances has at least one error. An error that several television sources copy. Not listed is a television program on the old "Dumont Network", "At Home with Billie Burke", a talk show from June 1951 into the spring, date unknown, of 1952. That overlooked program, brings Billie's total, known television appearances, to eight after "Father's Little Dividend".

This leaves her four motion pictures, the Jane Powell, Farley Granger, and Ann Miller, 1953 
musical, "Small Town Girl", the Paul Newman, Barbara Rush, and Alexis Smith, 1959 drama, "The Young Philadelphians", and the 1960 comedy musical, starring Mexican comedian, Cantinflas, Dan Dailey, and Shirley Jones, "Pepe".

My final film is the above, missing fourth picture, dealing allegorically with 1960's racism:


SERGEANT RUTLEDGE was released on May 25, 1960




The motion picture was directed by John Ford. This is a Calvary western and Ford had just released 1959's, "The Horse Soldiers", set during the Civil War, and this story is after the war. My article is "John Wayne in John Ford's CAVALRY TRILOGY: 'Fort Apache' 1948, 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon' 1949 and 'Rio Grande" at:



The screenplay was by two writers, the first is James Warner Bellah, who also wrote the original novel, and co-wrote the screenplays for 1948's, "Fort Apache", and 1962's, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance". The second writer was Willis Goldbeck, who among his screenplays was director Tod Browning's, 1932, "Freaks". He also wrote the majority of the Lew Ayres, "Dr. Killdare" movie series, and in 1958, the science fiction, "The Colossus of New York".


Jeffrey Hunter portrayed "Lt. Tom Cantrell". Hunter followed this feature film with the Hollywood biography of "Guy Gabaldan", 1960's, "From Hell to Eternity".





Constance Towers portrayed "Mary Beecher". Towers had just co-starred in John Ford's, 1959, "The Horse Soldiers". She returned to her primary career of acting in television dramas.





Billie Burke portrayed "Mrs. Cordelia Fosgate".  She had one more on-screen appearance after this feature, 1960's, "Pepe", and then Billie Burke retired from acting. 





Woody Strode portrayed "1st Sgt. Braxton Rutledge". One of the few times the UCLA Football player was given a real acting role. My article is "Woody Strode and Michael Pate: Western Stalwarts" found at:






After seeing 1959's, "The Horse Soldiers", movie goers were set for another solid John Ford calvary picture in "Sergeant Rutledge". They, along with the film critics, were not prepared for an allegorical look at race relations in the United States set in 1881.

Quoting film critic Richard Brody, in his August 1, 2017 article in "The New Yorker Magazine":

The greatest American political filmmaker, John Ford, relentlessly dramatized, in his Westerns, the mental and historical distortions arising from the country’s violent origins—including its legacy of racism, which he confronted throughout his career, nowhere more radically than in Sergeant Rutledge.

I'm admittedly cheating on my reader, but I will only briefly speak to this motion picture, and advise them to find a copy of the motion picture.

The story is told in flashback at the trial of "1st Sgt, Rutledge", a "Buffalo Soldier" accused of murdering his "White" commanding officer, and raping and murdering his commanding officer's "White" daughter. His defense is handled by "Rutledge's" own commanding officer, "Lt. Tom Cantrell".




























The town's people are ready to convict "Sergeant Rutledge" without a trial, because he is black. They are not sure that even an "All White Military Jury", conducted by the United States Army will do the same.

This article is obviously about actress Billie Burke, as seen below, next to a member of the "John Ford Stock Company", Mae Marsh, portraying "Mrs. Nellie Hackett"





Some critics and reviewers of the film mention that the role is a typical "Ditzy" Billie Burke performance. Whose character wants to sit in the front row of the trial to get a better view, because she is the wife of the current commanding officer of the fort, "Colonel Otis Fosgate", portrayed by Willis Bouchey. The same reviewers miss the point of the character, and point to the fact that Bouchey was 23-years-younger than Burke. The actor is on the right in the above picture of the court-martial tribunal. 

Age take presence in their reviews, over the fact that "Mrs. Fosgate" is a racist, plain and simple. She makes casual remarks to her friend "Nellie" about "Black Soldiers" and "White Women". "Mrs. Fosgate" subtlety feeds into John Ford's anti-racism position by her Southern voice and views. 


On May 14, 1970, Billie Burke Ziegfeld passed away from natural causes and was placed next to her husband, Florenz Edward Ziegfeld, Jr., at Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, Westchester, New York. Below the statue on her grave:















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