Eleanor Audley (née Zellman; November 19, 1905 – November 25, 1991) was an American actress with a distinctive voice and a diverse body of work. She played Oliver Douglas's mom, Eunice Douglas, on the CBS sitcom Green Acres (1965–1969), and provided two Disney animated classics with the voices of the two iconic villains: Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's evil stepmother in Cinderella (1950), and Maleficent, the wicked fairy in Sleeping Beauty (1959). She had roles in live-action films, but was most active in radio programs such as My Favorite Husband as Liz Cooper's mother-in-law, Mrs. Cooper, and Father Knows Best as the Anderson family's neighbor, Mrs. Smith. Audley's television appearances include those in I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mister Ed, Hazel, The Beverly Hillbillies, Pistols 'n' Petticoats, and My Three Sons.

Eleanor Audley
Audley c. 1930
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)
TelevisionGreen Acres (1965–1969)

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.[1]

Zellman began using the stage-name "Eleanor Audley" sometime before 1940.[2]

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



Stage and radio


Audley made her Broadway debut at age 21 in the 1926 production of Howdy, King.[4] Her other stage appearances included On Call (1928–1929);[5] Pigeons and People;[5] Thunder on the Left (both 1933); Kill That Story; Ladies' Money (both 1934); Susan and God (1937–1938; 1943); and In Bed We Cry (1944).[citation needed]

Audley worked extensively in the 1940s and 1950s in radio, notably playing Liz Cooper's aristocratic mother-in-law, Mrs. Cooper, who typically looks down on her, on My Favorite Husband (the role was initially played by Bea Benaderet), and the Anderson family's neighbor, Mrs. Smith, on Father Knows Best.[6] In addition, Audley performed on radio as a series regular on Romance, Escape, Suspense, Lux Radio Theatre, The Story of Dr. Kildare, The Railroad Hour, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. She played the stepmother in one-shot adaptations of the Cinderella story on the anothology series Hallmark Playhouse, and the weekly western series The Six Shooter, that starred James Stewart.[citation needed]

Film and animation


Audley's onscreen appearance was an uncredited role as a parole board member in the 1949 noir film The Story of Molly X starring June Havoc.[citation needed] Other film appearances followed, including: Pretty Baby (1950); Gambling House (1951); Cell 2455, Death Row (1955); The Unguarded Moment; Full of Life (both 1956); Spoilers of the Forest (1957); Home Before Dark (1958); an uncredited cameo as the mother and slain victim of suspect Jack Graham in The FBI Story (1959); The Second Time Around (1961); and Hook, Line and Sinker (1969).[citation needed] Audley was also uncredited dubbing actors playing small parts in films such as I Was a Male War Bride (1949) and Broken Arrow (1950).[citation needed]

In the animated film industry, Audley provided her distinctive voice to Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's cruel stepmother, in the 1950 Disney film Cinderella; and Princess Aurora's wicked 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 referencing 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 for Madame Leota—the spirit of a psychic medium—in the Haunted Mansion attractions in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.[8]


Audley in the TV series The Beverly Hillbillies, episode Jethro Goes To School, 1962

Audley's first television appearance was in the pilot episode of The Mickey Rooney Show (also titled Hey Mulligan) as Bessie Frost, a terrible actress who stars in a series called The Trials and Tribulations of Auntie Julia on the fictional IBC network where Mickey Mulligan works as their page.[citation needed] From 1954 to 1970, she appeared regularly on television, including episodes of: The People's Choice; I Love Lucy; Crossroads; Perry Mason; The Real McCoys; Richard Diamond, Private Detective; The Twilight Zone; Dennis the Menace; Mr. Lucky; The Tab Hunter Show; Pete and Gladys; and Hazel (in four appearances as different characters). 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,[10] 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.[11]



Audley died from respiratory failure in 1991, six days after her 86th birthday.[5] She is interred at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.[12]




Year Title Role Notes
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[citation needed]
1958 Step Down to Terror Mrs. Felicia Brighton uncredited[citation needed]
1958 Home Before Dark Mrs. Jayne Hathaway
1959 Sleeping Beauty Maleficent voice
1961 The Second Time Around Mrs. Katie Trask
1969 Hook, Line and Sinker Mrs. Maya Durham





Theme parks



  • 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


  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.