November 19, 1905
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||November 25, 1991 (aged 86)|
|Resting place||Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Other names||Elinor Audley|
|Known for||Disney's Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty|
Eleanor Audley (née Zellman) (November 19, 1905 – November 25, 1991) was an American actress with a distinctive voice and a diverse body of work. Audley was best known for her roles as aristocratic, somewhat villainous matrons. She played Oliver Douglas's mother, Eunice Douglas, on the CBS sitcom Green Acres (1965–1969), and provided Disney animated features with the voices of Lady Tremaine in Cinderella (1950); and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (1959). She had roles in live-action films, but was most active in radio programs such as My Favorite Husband and Father Knows Best. Audley's television appearances include those in I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Mister Ed and My Three Sons.
Early and personal life
Eleanor Zellman was born in Newark, New Jersey on November 19, 1905. Her family had moved to West 86th Street in Manhattan, New York City, by 1917. Her parents, William David Zellman and Ruth Simmons, were Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants. Her father was born in Ukraine, immigrated to the United States in 1895, and became a naturalized citizen in 1916. He worked in the silk industry. Her mother was born in Prussia, and immigrated circa 1890. She had a younger sister, Muriel.
Stage and radio
Audley made her Broadway debut at age 21 in the 1926 production of Howdy, King. Her other stage appearances included 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 (1944).
Audley worked extensively in the 1940s and 1950s in radio, notably playing George Cooper's aristocratic mother, Mrs. Cooper, who typically looks down on her daughter-in-law, Liz Cooper on My Favorite Husband, and the Anderson family's neighbor, Mrs. Smith on Father Knows Best. In addition, Audley performed on radio as a series regular on Escape, Suspense and The Story of Dr. Kildare. She played the stepmother in re-imaginings of the Cinderella story that were included in episodes of the series Hallmark Playhouse, and the weekly western series, The Six Shooter, that starred James Stewart.
Film and animation
Audley's first feature film appearance was in 1949's The Story of Molly X, where she played the non-credited role of a parole board member. Other film appearances followed, including: Pretty Baby (1950); Gambling House (1951); Cell 2455, Death Row (1955); The Unguarded Moment (1956); Full of Life (1956); Spoilers of the Forest (1957); Home Before Dark (1958); a cameo in 1959's The FBI Story (as the mother and slain victim of suspect Jack Graham); The Second Time Around (1961); and Hook, Line and Sinker (1969).
In the animated film industry, Audley provided her distinctive voice to Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's evil stepmother, in the 1950 Disney film Cinderella; and Princess Aurora's evil fairy nemesis, Maleficent, in Disney's 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty. For those films, animators Frank Thomas and Marc Davis designed the characters' facial features and expressions to be closely similar to Audley's. In addition to providing their voices, she served as the performance model for both characters for live-action referencing to help the animators. Audley had initially turned down the role of Maleficent because she was battling tuberculosis at the time.
Audley's first television appearance was in the pilot episode of The Mickey Rooney Show (also titled Hey Mulligan) as Bessie, a terrible actress who stars in an awful TV show. From 1954 to 1970, she appeared regularly on television, including episodes of: The People's Choice; I Love Lucy; Crossroads; The Real McCoys; Richard Diamond, Private Detective; The Twilight Zone; Dennis the Menace; Mr. Lucky; Perry Mason; The Tab Hunter Show; Pete and Gladys; and Hazel. Audley had recurring roles on The Dick Van Dyke Show as the P.T.A head Mrs. Billings, on The Beverly Hillbillies as the school headmistress Mrs. Potts, on Mister Ed as Wilbur Post's aunt Martha, on Pistols 'n' Petticoats as Mrs. Teaseley, on My Three Sons as Mrs. Vincent, and on Green Acres as Oliver Douglas's disapproving mother, Eunice Douglas, despite being only five months older than actor Eddie Albert who played the role of her son.
|1950||Cinderella||Lady Tremaine||voice role|
|1950||Pretty Baby||Miss Karen Brindel|
|1951||Gambling House||Mrs. Fern Livingston|
|1955||Cell 2455, Death Row||Blanche|
|1956||The Unguarded Moment||Mr. Pendleton's secretary|
|1956||Full of Life||Mrs. Kelly Jameson|
|1957||Spoilers of the Forest||Mrs. Shelby Walters|
|1958||Voice in the Mirror||Speaker at Soup Kitchen||uncredited|
|1958||Step Down to Terror||Mrs. Felicia Brighton||uncredited|
|1958||Home Before Dark||Mrs. Jayne Hathaway|
|1961||The Second Time Around||Mrs. Katie Trask|
|1969||Hook, Line and Sinker||Mrs. Maya Durham|
- Studio 57 (1954) as Miss Anna Hunt
- The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse (1955)
- Front Row Center (1955) as Carlotta Vance
- Damon Runyon Theater (1955) as Cynthia
- Celebrity Playhouse (1955)
- Our Miss Brooks (1956) as Mrs. Maya Pryor
- The 20th Century-Fox Hour (1956) as Governor's Wife/Mrs. Lucy Hammond/Mrs. Julie Morgan
- Climax! (1956)
- Screen Directors Playhouse (1956) as Judith Brenner
- The People's Choice (1956) as Moderator/Mrs. Kimbeley "Kim" Price
- The Adventures of Jim Bowie (1956) as Miss Peabody
- Father Knows Best (1956) as Saleslady/Woman giving spare change (uncredited)/ Bookstacker in Library
- Crusader (1956) as Mrs. Erika Watson
- Cavalcade of America (1957) as Mrs. Stacey Littlefield
- Lux Video Theatre (1956) as Mrs. Sandy Lane, (1957) as Aunt Ada
- The Ford Television Theatre (1955) as Tina (1955), as Constance Perks (1957)
- I Love Lucy (1957) as Eleanor Spaulding/Flower Judge
- Crossroads (1957) as Mrs. Sophie Sand
- The Lineup (1957) as Maryanne Carstaires
- The Gray Ghost (1957) as Mrs. Joan Maddox
- How to Marry a Millionaire (1957) as Gertrude Van Dyne
- The Millionaire (1955) as Cynthia Semple, (1958) as Gloria Van Enger/Columnist
- Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre (1958) as Mrs. Emily Trumbull
- The Loretta Young Show (1954) as Miss Bennett, (1958) as Edith Landow
- The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1956) as The Lady Customer, (1957) as Mrs. Felicity Crowley/Mrs. Winthrop, (1958) as The Saleslady
- Frontier Doctor (1958) as Hattie Black
- The Old Testament Scriptures (1958) as Naomi
- The Real McCoys (1959) as Dr. Laurence Kirkwood
- The Ann Sothern Show (1959) as Mrs. Jenny Thompson
- Mike Hammer (1959) as Mrs. Wendy Milford
- Hennesey (1959)
- Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1959) as Mrs. Deneken
- General Electric Theatre (1954) as Woman in Restaurant, (1955–1956), (1959) as Alice Martin)
- The Twilight Zone (1960) as Mrs. Whitney (uncredited)
- Walt Disney Presents (1960) as Mrs. Annie Videau
- Johnny Midnight (1960) as Mrs. Mia Rice
- The Gale Storm Show: Oh! Susanna (1956) as Passenger, (1957) as Mrs. Michelle Gardiner, (1960) as Bess Pomeroy
- The Untouchables (1960) as Mrs. Micheline Cross
- The Man From Blackhawk (1960) as Comtesse De Vilon
- Dennis the Menace (1960) as Mrs. Andrea Pompton
- Peter Gunn (1960) as Laura Scott
- Mr. Lucky (1960) as Mrs. Alice Dubois
- Make Room for Daddy (1960) as Mrs. Anette Willoughby
- Shirley Temple's Storybook (1960) as Miss Felicity Collingwood
- Perry Mason (1958) as Lois Gilbert, (1960) as Headmistress Lorimer
- The Tab Hunter Show (1961) as Columnist
- The Best of the Post (1962) as Mrs. Jackie Hill (as Elinor Audley)
- Ichabod and Me (1962)
- The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1962) as Irma Lumpkin
- Pete and Gladys (1961) as Mrs. Linda Brenner, (1962) as Mrs. Elisa Clibber
- The Detectives (1962) as Liz Roberts
- The Joey Bishop Show (1961) as Mrs. Arianne Willoughby, (1962) as Fashion Announcer/Mrs. Penny Fitch as Clubwoman
- Have Gun - Will Travel (1960) as Cynthia Palmer, (1961) as School Teacher, (1963) as Mrs. Hannah Randolph Quincy
- The Dick Powell Theatre (1963) as Lady
- The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961) as Party Goer), (1962—1963) as Mrs. Peggy Billings
- The New Phil Silvers Show (1963) as Mrs. Allison Osborne
- Wagon Train (1958) as Mrs. Winston, (1961) as Mother Albright, (1963) as Minerva Ames
- McHale's Navy (1964) as Mrs. Millicent Hardsey
- The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1963-1964) as Mrs. Millicent Schuyler-Potts
- Many Happy Returns (1964) as Mrs. Pernandina Atwood
- Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre (1964) as Mrs. Johnson/Lil Schaeffer/Buttercup Fuchisa
- Mister Ed (1961–1965) as Aunt Martha
- The Cara Williams Show (1965) as Mrs. Lorence Ashford
- The Farmer's Daughter (1964) as Simone, (1965) as Mildred
- The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1965) as Mrs. Laura Farnham
- The Jack Benny Program (1965) as Mrs. Jeanna Lewis
- Kentucky Jones (1965) as Mrs. Winnona Edgerton
- Peyton Place (1965) as Miss Martha (uncredited)
- O.K. Crackerby! (1965) as Mrs. Ameila Willoughby
- Hazel (1961) as Customer, (1962) as Mrs. Totter, (1963) as Mrs. Loretta Green, (1965) as Mrs. Katie Hardy
- The Lucy Show (1965) as The Columnist
- The Big Valley (1965) as Mother Callahan
- My Brother the Angel (1965) as Mrs. Evelyne Ettinger
- The Bob Hope Show (1956-1957-1966)
- Honey West (1966) as Mrs. Juniper Carlton Murdock
- Summer Fun (1966) as Mother-in-law
- The Phyllis Diller Show (1966) as Mrs. Elsa Fenwick
- Pistols 'n' Petticoats (1966–1967) as Mrs. Jenny Teasley
- Green Acres (1965–1969) as Mother Eunice Douglas
- My Three Sons (1969–1970) as Mrs. Beatrice Vincent
- The Wonderful World of Disney (1977) as Lady Tremaine (voice, archived)/Maleficent (voice, archived)
- Disney's Wonderful World (1979) as Matron (archived)
- Walt Disney (1983) as Lady Tremaine (voice, archived)/Maleficent (voice, archived)
- The Wonderful World of Disney (1998) as Maleficent (voice, archived)
- The Bishop and the Gargoyle (NBC special, July 14, 1940)
- Adventure Ahead (NBC Red, 1944)
- Words at War (NBC Red, 1945)
- The Eternal Light (NBC, 1945–1946)
- Encore Theatre (CBS, 1946)
- The Big Story (NBC, 1947)
- Escape (CBS, 1947–1948), episodes include "Back for Christmas" and "The Man Who Could Work Miracles"
- The Adventures of Ellery Queen (ABC, 1947–1948)
- Suspense (CBS, 1940s, not often credited), episodes include repeats of "Sorry, Wrong Number" and "The Man Who Wanted to Be Edward G. Robinson" (both 1948)
- Sealtest Variety Theatre (NBC, 1949)
- My Home Town (NBC, 1949)
- This Is Your FBI (ABC, 1949)
- Richard Diamond, Private Detective (NBC, 1949)
- NBC University Theatre (NBC, 1949)
- Pursuit (CBS, 1949)
- The Hotpoint Holiday Hour (CBS, 1949), "The Man Who Came to Dinner"
- The Whistler (CBS, 1948–1950)
- The Story of Dr. Kildare (syndicated, 1949–1950) as Molly Byrd
- The Life of Riley (NBC, 1950)
- The Halls of Ivy (NBC, 1950)
- The Adventures of Christopher London (NBC, 1950)
- The Saint (NBC, 1950)
- My Favorite Husband (CBS, 1949–1951) as Mrs. Leticia Cooper
- Screen Directors Playhouse (NBC, 1950–1951)
- Family Theatre (Mutual, 1950–1951)
- Hollywood Star Playhouse (CBS, 1951)
- Hallmark Playhouse (CBS, 1951), includes "The Story Of Cinderella"
- Night Beat (NBC, 1950–1952)
- Romance (CBS series, 1944–1954, not often credited), episodes include "Pride and Prejudice" and "The Long Way Home"
- Lux Radio Theatre (CBS, 1948–1954)
- The Railroad Hour (NBC, 1949–1954)
- Father Knows Best (NBC, 1949–1954) as Mrs. Elizabeth Smith
- The Six Shooter (NBC, 1953–1954) as Mrs. Abbey Ames
- Fibber McGee and Molly (NBC, 1954–1955)
- The CBS Radio Workshop (CBS, 1956–1957)
- Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (CBS 1955–1960)
- Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1949, RCA/Camden) as Evil Queen
- Walt Disney's Cinderella: Little Nipper Series (1949, RCA/Camden) as Lady Tremaine
- Walt Disney's Cinderella (1954, RCA/Camden) as Lady Tremaine
- The Story and Song from The Haunted Mansion (1969, Disneyland Records) as Madame Leota
- Disney Songs and Story: Sleeping Beauty (2012, Walt Disney Records) as Maleficent
- Howdy, King as guest in hotel, December 1926 to January 1927
- On Call as Mary Randall, November 1928 to January 1929
- Pigeons and People as Elinore Payne, January 1933 to November 1933
- Thunder on the Left as Ruth Brook, October 1933 to November 1933
- Kill That Story as Millicent, August 1934 to December 1934
- Ladies' Money as Claire Touhey, November 1934 to December 1934
- Susan and God as Charlotte Marley, October 1937 to June 1938, December 1943
- In Bed We Cry as Claire Dangerfield, November 1944 to December 23, 1944
- 1930 U.S. Census
- 1940 U.S. Census
- Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers[better source needed]
- "Eleanor Audley". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on March 31, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
- "Eleanor Audley; Actress, Voice of Disney Characters". Los Angeles Times. November 27, 1991. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
- Hischak, Thomas S. (2011). Disney Voice Actors: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. ISBN 978-0786462711.
- Zuckerman, Esther (May 30, 2014). "Meet Eleanor Audley, the Original 'Maleficent'". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- Audio-Commentary. Sleeping Beauty: Platinum Edition: Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 2008.
- Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 837. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
- Lang, Nico (August 15, 2013). "29 Little-Known Facts About Disney Movies That Will Blow Your Mind". Thought Catalog. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 32. ISBN 9781476625997. Retrieved February 10, 2019.