It was on this day in theatre history–August 31–in 1907 that Billie Burke made her Broadway debut starring in a comedy produced by the great Charles Frohman and written by Michael Morton (a veritable playwriting machine who cranked out no fewer than 23 major Broadway hits between 1897 and 1932) entitled My Wife. Her leading man was none other than America’s top star, John Drew–one of the greatest actors of his day. It ran for 129 performances at the old Empire Theatre located on Broadway between 40th and 41st Streets. Ms. Burke, of course, would soon be better known as Mrs. Flo Ziegfeld, whom she married in 1914. With her financial future secure, she retired from the stage–until 1929, when the stock market crash forced her to return to film work, eventually starring in over 30 films during the 1930s. And as we all know, she was hired to play Glinda, the Good Witch of the North in the 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz–the role for which she is best known today. But it was on this day in 1907 when her career first took off.
- Today in Theatre History–THE FIRST AMERICAN-BORN ACTOR? WHO KNOWS?–March 13, 1790
- Today in Theatre History: WILLIAM WELLS BROWN’S “ESCAPE” LEAPS TO FAME–January 30, 1858
- Today in Theatre History: SHERIDAN’S FIRST PLAY, THE RIVALS, GETS A DO-OVER–January 28, 1775
- Today in Theatre History: OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD WITH DOROTHY AND IMOGENE THE COW–January 21, 1903
- Today in Theatre History: GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, “A THIRD RATE IBSEN”–January 9, 1905
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