Silk Old Mill Cigarette Ribbons of Billie Burke and Anna Held (early 1900's) - image 1 of 3

This unusual display of tobacco / Old Mill cigarette silk ribbons of Billie Burke and Anna Held is nostalgic and typical of the premium silk banners that were used to sell cigarettes in the early 1900's. These silk ribbons are about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. They are remarkably fade-resistant given their age. They are mounted in a vintage gold painted frame which is about 6 inches high and 8 inches wide. The frame and contents weigh about 1/2 lb.

About these silken beauties*:

Billie Burke: Billie Burke was the wife of Flo Ziegfeld, an early version of a "pin up girl" in advertising. She was born Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke (August 7, 1884 – May 14, 1970) and was an American actress famous on Broadway and radio, and in silent and sound films. She is best known to modern audiences as Glinda the Good Witch of the North in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie musical The Wizard of Oz (1939).

Burke was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Emily Kilbourne in Merrily We Live (1938). She is also remembered for her appearances in the Topper film series. Her unmistakably high-pitched, quivering and aristocratic voice, made her a frequent choice to play dimwitted or spoiled society types.

She was married to Broadway producer and impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. from 1914 until his death in 1932.

Anna Held: Helene Anna Held (19 March 1872 – 12 August 1918) was a Polish-French stage performer on Broadway. While appearing in London, she was spotted by impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, who brought her to America as his common-law wife. From 1896 through 1910, she was one of Broadway's most celebrated leading ladies, presented in a succession of musicals as a charming, coquettish Parisian singer and comedienne, with an hourglass figure and an off-stage reputation for exotic behavior, such as bathing in 40 gallons of milk a day to maintain her complexion.

Detractors implied that her fame owed more to Ziegfeld's promotional flair than to any intrinsic talent, but her audience allure was undeniable for over a decade, with several of her shows setting house attendance records for their time. Her uninhibited style also inspired the long-running series of popular revues, the Ziegfeld Follies.

Held influenced the format for what would eventually become the famous Ziegfeld Follies in 1907, and she helped Ziegfeld establish the most lucrative phase of his career. Held could not perform in the first Follies when she become pregnant by Ziegfeld in late 1908.

In 1909, Ziegfeld began an affair with the actress Lillian Lorraine; Held remained hopeful that his fascination would pass, and he would return to her, but instead he turned his attentions to another actress, Billie Burke, whom he would marry in 1914.

The irony of pairing these two lovely ladies together in the same frame was not lost to whoever created the display...

*Sources: Wikipedia

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Silk Old Mill Cigarette Ribbons of Billie Burke and Anna Held (early 1900's)


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