Billie Bird
Date of Birth
Feb 28, 1908
Birth Place:
Pocatello, ID

Biography

A vaudeville and burlesque comedienne who went on to essay numerous film roles after being discovered at an orphanage at the age of eight, actress Billie Bird would later use her stage experience to entertain troops on 12 USO tours in the 1960s and '70s. Born Bird Berniece Sellen in Pocatello, ID, in February 1908, her chance discovery came when a traveling road show stopped to entertain the children at the orphanage in which she resided and immediately recognized her talent. Subsequently traveling with the troupe and studying with a tutor in her downtime, Bird went on to form a sister act and later appeared in such "light opera" works as Show Boat and New Moon. A move to Los Angeles in 1943 found Bird performing at such hot spots as Club Moderne and The Colony Club, and, from 1947 to 1955, she showed off her skills on the guitar, clarinet, vibraphone, and bagpipes in burlesque shows. Although Bird made her screen debut in the 1921 comedy Grass Widowers, it was the 1950s that found her edging away from the stage and toward television and film. Particularly active in movies in the '50s, Bird appeared in more than a dozen films, including Somebody Loves Me (1952) and The Joker Is Wild (1957). The actress remained relatively active in the '60s, as well, although her career slowed to a notable pace in the '70s with the exception of a featured role in the popular late-'70s sitcom Benson. However, her screen career later picked up momentum with such notable '80s comedies as Sixteen Candles (1984), One Crazy Summer (1986), and Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987), and Bird made a successful return to the world of sitcom television as an aged, but feisty, support-group member in Dear John. Roles in such films as Home Alone (1990) and Dennis the Menace (1993) followed. In 1995, she made her final screen appearance in the Pauly Shore comedy Jury Duty. Stricken with Alzheimer's disease in the '90s, Bird died in November 2002. She was 92. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Provided by Rovi