Eleanor Audley

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Eleanor Audley
Eleanor Audley.jpg
Audley in costume concept for the role of Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Born Eleanor Zellman
(1905-11-19)November 19, 1905
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died November 25, 1991(1991-11-25) (aged 86)
North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Respiratory failure
Resting place Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Nationality American
Occupation Stage, radio, film, television and voice actress
Years active 1926–1970
Known for Maleficent, Lady Tremaine, Eunice Douglas

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 (1950), and Maleficent, the evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty (1959).[1]


Audley was born Eleanor Zellman in New York City, New York on November 19, 1905.


She made her Broadway debut in the 1926 production of Howdy, King. Her other stage appearances include On Call (1928), Pigeons and People (1933), Thunder on the Left (1933), Kill That Story (1934), Ladies' Money (1934), Susan and God (1937), and In Bed We Cry (1943).


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 1954, she played the stepmother in a re-imagining of the Cinderella story for The Six Shooter starring James Stewart.


Her film appearences include No Way Out (1950), Three Secrets (1950), Gambling House (1950), Starlift (1951), With a Song in My Heart (1952), Untamed (1955), Cell 2245, Death Row (1955), All That Heaven Allows (1955), The Unguarded Moment (1956), Full of Life (1956), Jeanne Eagels (1957), Voice in the Mirror (1958), Home Before Dark (1958), The FBI Story (1959), The Pleasure of His Company (1961), The Second Time Around (1961), Wives and Lovers (1963), The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), Kisses for My President (1964), I'll Take Sweden (1965), Never a Dull Moment (1968), and Hook, Line and Sinker (1969).


In the animated film industry she was best known for giving her distinctive, powerful voice to the wicked stepmother with gray hair, Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's wicked stepmother in the Disney animated film Cinderella (1950), and the evil fairy, Maleficent in Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959). 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.[2] She voiced another wicked stepmother, the Evil Queen, Snow White's wicked stepmother from Disney's audiobook Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs starring Ilene Woods (the voice of Cinderella) as Snow White. 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!"

Since her death in 1991, Susanne Blakeslee (whose voice resembles Audley) has been voicing Lady Tremaine in the animated sequels, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, succeeding Audley's portrayal of her, Maleficent in the Kingdom Hearts video game series, Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion Holiday, and Disney media. Lois Nettleton also voiced Maleficent in episodes of the animated TV series, Disney's House of Mouse.

Both of the animated characters she voiced were portrayed years later by Angelina Jolie and Cate Blanchett in the live-action films, Maleficent and Cinderella. Madame Leota was portrayed by Jennifer Tilly in the 2003 film, The Haunted Mansion.


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, Eunice Douglas on Green Acres (although she was only five months older than actor Eddie Albert, who played her son). The surviving members of the cast were reunited for a TV movie titled Return to Green Acres except for Audley, who suffered from failing health and had retired from acting 20 years earlier. It aired on CBS on May 18, 1990. She also played Millicent Schuyler-Potts, the headmistress of the Potts School which Jethro Bodine attended in The Beverly Hillbillies, Wibur Post's embarrassing aunt, Martha from Mister Ed, and Steven Douglas's mother-in-law, Mrs. Vincent from My Three Sons.


Audley died at age 86, from respiratory failure, in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California on November 25, 1991. She is interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery.


Film roles[edit]

TV roles[edit]

Radio appearances[edit]

Theme parks[edit]


Stage appearances[edit]

  • Howdy, King – "as guest in hotel", Dec 13, 1926 – Jan 1927
  • On Call – as "Mary Randall", Nov 9, 1928 – Jan 1929
  • Pigeons and People – as "Elinore Payne", Jan 16, 1933 – Nov 1933
  • Thunder on the Left – as "Ruth Brook", Oct 31, 1933 – Nov 1933
  • Kill That Story – as "Millicent", Aug 29, 1934 – Dec 1934
  • Ladies' Money – as "Claire Touhey", Nov 1, 1934 – Dec 1934
  • Susan and God – as "Charlotte Marley", Oct 7, 1937 – Jun 1938 – Dec 13, 1943 – Dec 18, 1943
  • In Bed We Cry – as "Claire Dangerfield", Nov 14, 1943 – Dec 23, 1944


  1. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2011). Disney Voice Actors: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. ISBN 978-0786462711. 
  2. ^ Audio-Commentary. Sleeping Beauty: Platinum Edition: Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 2008. 

External links[edit]