November 19, 1905
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||November 25, 1991
North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Respiratory failure|
|Resting place||Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Occupation||Radio, film, television and voice actress|
|Known for||Maleficent and Lady Tremaine|
Eleanor Audley (born Eleanor Zellman, November 19, 1905 – November 25, 1991) was an American actress who was a familiar radio and animation voice, in addition to her TV and film roles. She is best remembered on television as Eunice Douglas on Green Acres and, for many, for providing Disney animated features with their most outstanding and memorable villainess voices, most notably two of the most sinister Disney villainesses, Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's evil stepmother from Cinderella, and Maleficent, the evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty.
Beginning as a radio actress, she worked extensively in the 1940s and 50s in Hollywood on such shows as Escape, Suspense and the radio versions of My Favorite Husband (as mother-in-law Mrs. Cooper), The Story of Dr. Kildare (as receptionist Molly Byrd), and Father Knows Best (as one of the Anderson family's neighbors). In 1953, she played the stepmother in a re-imagining of the Cinderella story for The Six Shooter starring James Stewart.
In the animated film industry she was best known for giving her distinctive, powerful voice to the evil stepmother with gray hair, Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's evil stepmother, in the Disney animated film Cinderella, and the evil fairy Maleficent in Disney's Sleeping Beauty. For these films, animators Frank Thomas and Marc Davis made the characters' facial features and expressions resemble Audley. Audley initially turned down the choice role of Maleficent because she was battling tuberculosis. She also provided the voice of Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion attractions in Disneyland and Walt Disney World, speaking the memorable lines, "Rap on a table. It's time to respond. Send us a message from somewhere beyond!"
Beginning in the mid-1950s, she appeared constantly on television, including episodes of I Love Lucy, Crossroads, The People's Choice, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Perry Mason, Dennis the Menace, Hazel, Pete and Gladys, The Real McCoys, The Twilight Zone, Mr. Lucky, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. She was a series regular as Oliver Douglas's disapproving mother on Green Acres (although she was only five months older than actor Eddie Albert, who played her son). She also played Millicent Schuyler-Potts, the headmistress of the Potts School which Jethro Bodine attended in The Beverly Hillbillies.
Audley died of respiratory failure at age 86. She is interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery.
- Eleanor Audley at the Internet Movie Database
- Eleanor Audley at AllMovie
- Eleanor Audley at Find a Grave