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 the CBS sitcom Green Acres (1965–69); and for providing Disney animated films with the voices of Lady Tremaine from Cinderella (1950); and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (1959).

Stage

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

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).

Radio

Audley worked extensively in the 1940s and '50s in Hollywood radio on such shows as Escape; Suspense; My Favorite Husband (as Liz Cooper's mother-in-law, Leticia Cooper); The Story of Dr. Kildare (as receptionist Molly Byrd); and Father Knows Best (as Anderson family neighbor, Elizabeth Smith). 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.

Animation

In the animated film industry, Audley was best known for giving her distinctive, powerful, chilling voice to Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's evil stepmother in the 1950 Disney animated film Cinderella; and Aurora's evil fairy godmother, Maleficent, in Disney's 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty.[1] For these films, animators Frank Thomas and Marc Davis made the characters' facial features and expressions resemble Audley's. 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]

To promote Cinderella, Audley voiced the Evil Queen in the 1949 Disney audiobook release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with Ilene Woods voicing Snow White. Audley voiced the Evil Queen in a 1953 radio version of Disney's Snow White for an episode of the radio program, The Railroad Hour.

In 1960, Audley appeared on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color TV miniseries, The Swamp Fox.

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

Television

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 Wibur Post's aunt, Martha); and My Three Sons (as Steven Douglas's mother-in-law, Mrs. Vincent).

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.

Death and legacy

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.

Actress Lois Nettleton voiced Maleficent in the animated TV series, Disney's House of Mouse. Voice actress Susanne Blakeslee took over as the voice of Maleficent in the video game series, Kingdom Hearts, and also took over Audley's other voice roles, including, Lady Tremaine in the sequels, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, and Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction.[citation needed]

Work

Film roles

TV roles

Radio appearances

Theme parks

Discography

  • Walt Disney's Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1949, RCA/Camden) - Evil Queen

Stage appearances

  • 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

References

  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.