Kay Thompson, creator of the Plaza Hotel’s beloved rascal Eloise, must be rolling over in her grave now that all of her secrets are out. Though best known for “Eloise,” the wildly fascinating Thompson was much more than a classic children’s book author.
She was a singer, so talented that she starred in two prime time radio shows simultaneously and on competing networks. She was a vocal coach – the best in the world, they say – who directed the likes of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Lucille Ball. As an actress, she outdid costars Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire and she had the highest paid cabaret show of the 1950s. She was Judy Garland’s best friend and Liza Minnelli’s godmother. She was also an exasperating eccentric who would stomp on anyone to fulfill her limitless ambitions.
And then there was Eloise, Thompson’s squeaky voiced 6-year-old alter ego and eventual literary sensation. In “Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise,” Sam Irvin unearths the legacy behind the woman who gave little girls and grownups everywhere the permission to rebel. After painstaking research and some 200 interviews with many of the show business personalities that knew her best, Irvin puts together an authentic account of a real-life character readers will be hard pressed to forget.