Eleanor Audley

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.

Eleanor Audley
Eleanor Audley in Beverly Hillbillies 1962.jpg
Audley in 1962
Eleanor Zellman

(1905-11-19)November 19, 1905
DiedNovember 25, 1991(1991-11-25) (aged 86)
Resting placeMount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Other namesElinor Audley
Years active1926–1970
Known forVoice of Lady Tremaine in Disney's Cinderella (1950)
Voice of Maleficent in Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Eunice Douglas in Green Acres (1965–1969)

She also had roles in live-action films; however, she was most active in radio programs. She is best remembered as Oliver Douglas's mother, Eunice Douglas on the CBS sitcom Green Acres (1965–1969), and as the original voices of two Disney villainesses: Lady Tremaine in Cinderella (1950); and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (1959).

Audley's other television appearances include I Love Lucy; The Dick Van Dyke Show; The Beverly Hillbillies; Mister Ed; Pistols 'n' Petticoats; and My Three Sons.

Early and personal lifeEdit

Eleanor Zellman was born in Newark, New Jersey on November 19, 1905. She and her family moved to West 86th Street in Manhattan, New York City by 1917.[1] Her parents, William David Zellman and Ruth Simmons, were Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants. Her father was born in Borky, Russia (now 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.

Zellman graduated from Hunter College High School in Manhattan in 1924. She began using the stage-name Eleanor Audley before 1940.[2]

A Democrat, she supported Adlai Stevenson's campaign during the 1952 presidential election.[3]


Stage and radioEdit

Audley made her Broadway debut at age 21 in the 1926 production of Howdy, King.[4] Her other stage appearances included On Call (1928);[5] Pigeons and People (1933);[5] 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 Hollywood radio on such programs as Escape; Suspense; The Story of Dr. Kildare (as receptionist Molly Byrd);[citation needed] My Favorite Husband (as mother-in-law, Mrs. Cooper); and Father Knows Best (as Anderson family neighbor, Mrs. Smith).[6] She played the stepmother in re-imaginings of the Cinderella story included in episodes of the series Hallmark Playhouse, and the weekly western series The Six Shooter, which starred James Stewart.

Film and animationEdit

Audley's first film appearance was in 1949 In The Story of Molly X, where she played the non-credited role of a Parole Board Member. Other film appearances include 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 convicted suspect Jack Graham, in one of the opening scenes of the film); The Second Time Around (1961); 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 nemesis, Maleficent, in Disney's 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty.[7] For those films, animators Frank Thomas and Marc Davis designed the characters' facial features and expressions to be closely similar to Audley's.[8] In addition to providing their voices, she served as the performance model for both characters for live-action reference to help the animators. Audley had initially turned down the role of Maleficent because she was battling tuberculosis at the time.[9]

Audley provided the voice to Madame Leota, the spirit of a psychic medium, in the Haunted Mansion attractions in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.[8]


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; The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis; Pete and Gladys; McHale's Navy; and Hazel.

Audley had the roles of the P.T.A head, Mrs. Billings on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1962–1963); the school headmistress, Mrs. Potts on The Beverly Hillbillies (1962–1964); Wilbur Post's aunt, Martha on Mister Ed (1961–1965); Mrs. Teaseley on Pistols 'n' Petticoats (1966–1967);[10] and Mrs. Vincent (her final role) on My Three Sons (1969–1970). She also played a recurring character on the CBS sitcom Green Acres from 1965 to 1969, portraying Oliver Douglas's disapproving mother, Eunice Douglas, despite being only five months older than actor Eddie Albert who played the role of her son.[11]


Audley died from respiratory failure on November 25, 1991, at the age of 86.[5] She is interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.[12]

Selected workEdit




Theme parksEdit


  • 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 Jun 1938, December 1943
  • In Bed We Cry as Claire Dangerfield, November 1944 to December 23, 1944


  1. ^ 1930 U.S. Census
  2. ^ 1940 U.S. Census
  3. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
  4. ^ "Eleanor Audley". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on March 31, 2020. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "Eleanor Audley; Actress, Voice of Disney Characters". Los Angeles Times. November 27, 1991. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2011). Disney Voice Actors: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland. ISBN 978-0786462711.
  8. ^ a b Zuckerman, Esther (May 30, 2014). "Meet Eleanor Audley, the Original 'Maleficent'". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  9. ^ Audio-Commentary. Sleeping Beauty: Platinum Edition: Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 2008.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Lang, Nico (August 15, 2013). "29 Little-Known Facts About Disney Movies That Will Blow Your Mind". Thought Catalog. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  12. ^ 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.

External linksEdit