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Flo Ziegfeld - Billie Burke papers, 1907-1984



Burke, Billie, 1885-1970.



8.25 lf. (17 boxes + 1 oversized envelope and 1 slipcased albumn)

Scope/Contents Note

The Flo Ziegfeld-Billie Burke papers span 1907-1984, and consist of stage, radio, and film scripts, and a relatively small amount of clippings, photographs, and business papers. The emphasis in the collection is on Burke, covering her career from the time she first went onthe stage in the early years of the twentieth century until her retirement, only superficially covering that portion of Ziegfeld's life and career after he and Burke were married in 1914 until his death in 1932. Although there are scripts and clippings included that represent Ziegfeld productions, most of them concern Burke's career as a stage actress and, later, as a radio and film actress. The business papers are especially noteworthy in that several contracts between Ziegfeld and producers suchas A.L. Erlanger are included, in addition to financial records of some of the Ziegfeld productions. Burke's career in radio is well documented with a number of scripts covering her guest appearances on shows starring Eddie Cantor, Milton Berle, Bob Hope, Rudy Vallee, and others. There are three drafts of the screenplay for MGM's1936 film biography THE GREAT ZIEGFELD, in which Burke wasportrayed by Myrna Loy. There are also photographs of Burke, and other performers associated with Ziegfeld, including Fanny Brice, Leon Errol, and various show girls.

Biographical/Historical Note

Florenz "Flo" Ziegfeld was a theatrical impressario who perfected a form of the musical comedy revue, the Follies,regarded as the pinnacle of the field, while he himself became a legendary figure, making and losing several fortunes, and marrying two of his biggest stars, Anna Heldand Billie Burke. Born in Chicago in 1869, son of a classical musician and a music teacher, "Flo" Ziegfeld chose a career in popular entertainment, first as a bookerof vaudeville acts and later as a producer of plays designed mainly to showcase the talents of his first wife Anna Held. He found his niche as producer of the Follies, beginning in 1907 and offering new editions annually or semi-annually until 1931. Although the Follies was best known for its lavish sets and beautiful women, Ziegfeld was adept at discovering and developing comic talent, and presented such top comedians as Fanny Brice, Bert Williams,Will Rogers, W. C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, and many others.
Ziegfeld's second wife, Billie Burke, was born into a theatrical family in Washington, D.C., in 1885, and made her stage debut at 18. Soon astar, Billie Burke alternatedbetween the stage and films, and married Florenz Ziegfeld in 1914. 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, appearing in such films as DINNER AT EIGHT (1933), TOPPER (1937), and THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), as Glinda. Billie Burke died in 1970 at the age of 85.

Controlled Access Terms

  • Ziegfeld, Flo, 1869-1932.
  • Burke, Billie, 1885-1970.
  • Held, Anna, 1877?-1918.
  • Erlanger, Abraham L.
  • Brice, Fanny.
  • Cantor, Eddie, 1892-1964.
  • Ziegfeld follies.
  • Great Ziegfeld (Motion picture)
  • Fashions in rations (Radio program)
  • Theater -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Motion pictures -- California -- Los Angeles.
  • Radio scripts.
  • Scripts.
  • Clippings.
  • Photographs.
  • Business records.

Additional Creator Names

  • Ziegfeld, Flo, 1869-1932.