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, U.S.
Died November 25, 1991(1991-11-25) (aged 86)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death Respiratory failure
Resting place Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Nationality American
Other names Elinor Audley
Occupation Actress, voice actress, radio actress, stage actress
Years active 1926–1970
Known for Original voice of Lady Tremaine in Disney's Cinderella (1950)
Original voice of Maleficent in Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Original voice of Madame Leota in Disney's Haunted Mansion (1969)
Television Green Acres (1965 - 1969)

Eleanor Audley (born Eleanor Zellman; November 19, 1905 – November 25, 1991) was an American actress who had a distinctive voice in radio and animation, in addition to her TV and film roles. She is best remembered on television as Oliver Douglas's mother, Eunice Douglas, on the CBS sitcom, Green Acres (1965–69); and for providing Disney animated features with the villainess voices of Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's evil stepmother, from Cinderella (1950); and the evil fairy, Maleficent, from Sleeping Beauty (1959). She was known in her career for mostly playing characters with snobbish mean attitudes.

Audley also provided the voice of Madame Leota, the spirit medium, from Disney's Haunted Mansion attractions.

Early life[edit]

Audley was born Eleanor Zellman in New York on November 19, 1905 and raised in the United States.


Audley made her Broadway debut in the 1926 production of Howdy, King. 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).


Audley worked extensively in the 1940s and '50s in Hollywood radio on such programs as Escape; Suspense; My Favorite Husband (as mother-in-law, Mrs. Cooper); The Story of Dr. Kildare (as receptionist Molly Byrd); and Father Knows Best (as a neighbor of the Anderson family). In 1954, she played the stepmother in an episode which included a re-imagining of the Cinderella story for the weekly western series, The Six Shooter, which starred James Stewart.


Audley's film appearances include: No Way Out (1950); Three Secrets (1950); Gambling House (1950); Starlift (1951); With a Song in My Heart (1952); Untamed (1955); Cell 2455, 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); and Hook, Line and Sinker (1969).


In the animated film industry, Audley was best known for providing her distinctive voice to Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's evil stepmother, in the 1950 Disney film Cinderella; and Princess Aurora's evil fairy godmother, Maleficent, in Disney's 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty.[1] For those films, animators Frank Thomas and Marc Davis designed the characters' facial features and expressions to be closely similar to Audley. She was the live-action model for both characters. Audley had initially turned down the role of Maleficent because she was battling tuberculosis at the time.[2]

In 1969, Audley provided the voice of Madame Leota, the spirit of a psychic medium, in the Haunted Mansion attractions in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.


From 1954 until 1970, Audley appeared regularly on television, including: 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; The Dick Van Dyke Show (as Parent-Teacher Association head, Mrs. Billings); The Beverly Hillbillies (as Potts School headmistress, Millicent Schuyler-Potts); Mister Ed (as Aunt Martha); and My Three Sons (as mother-in-law, Mrs. Vincent, which was her final role before retiring).

Audley was a series regular on Green Acres from 1965 to 1969, playing Oliver Douglas's disapproving mother, Eunice Douglas.[3] When the cast were reunited for a 1990 TV movie, Return to Green Acres, Audley, who suffered from failing health, could not appear.


Audley died at the age of 86 from respiratory failure, in North Hollywood, 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]


  • Walt Disney's Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1949, RCA/Camden) - Evil Queen
  • Walt Disney's Cinderella (1954, RCA/Camden) - Lady Tremaine
  • Disney Songs and Story: Sleeping Beauty (2012, Walt Disney Records) - Maleficent

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. 
  3. ^ Note: Audley was only five months older than actor Eddie Albert, who played her son on Green Acres.

External links[edit]