Saturday, September 4, 2010
Who was Eloise? ~ Many say she was inspired by the antics of her goddaughter Liza Minnelli...
Saturday September 4, 2010
Who was Eloise?
Who did author Kay Thompson (1908-1998) model the garrulous and opiniated Eloise on?
Many say she was inspired by the antics of her goddaughter Liza Minnelli, though some insist the character was based on Thompson herself.
The talented Thompson was an accomplished actress, singer, playwright and composer.
According to an urban legend, Thompson was once late for a rehearsal and apologised in a shrill, girlish voice. An actor joked, “Who are you, little girl?” and Thompson squeaked impulsively, “I am Eloise, I am six”. Another actress joined in by pretending to be an adult and the entire crew joined in the fun, each pretending to be a juvenile or adult character.
It became a regular rehearsal pastime, and Thompson would go on to write her first book Eloise — A Book for Precocious Grown-Ups during a three-month acting break.
The other books are Eloise In Paris (1957), Eloise At Christmastime (1958) and Eloise In Moscow (1959). In 1957, Publishers’ Weekly announced, “As everyone who can read must know, Eloise is an over-privileged six-year-old, the terror of Plaza Hotel in New York. She is ill-mannered, ill-tempered and ugly. But she has her charm. She often means well and her mother neglects her. Even though you know you would do the same thing if she were yours, you can’t help finding this appealing.”
Adults and kids alike are riveted by her behaviour. Her mantra is “Boredom is not allowed”.
A typical afternoon might involve braiding her pet tortoise’s ears, ordering “one roast beef bone, one raisin and seven spoons” from room service and devising innovative methods of torturing for her guardians.
Eloise’s taunts are terrible, her imagination inimitable, her pace positively perilous but her impertinence never fails to delight and inspire. She has been described in various ways including:
• Eloise is not yet pretty but she is already a Person
• Henry James would want to study her
• Queen Victoria would recognise her as an Equal
• The New York Jets would want to have her on their side
• Lewis Carroll would love her (once he got over the initial shock)
• She is interested in people when they are not boring• If you take her home, you will always be glad you did
Eloise’s exploits are endless and she ends her sentences with “and then … and then … and then”. She is a study in self-confidence and is far more capricious in her exploration of The Plaza than Alice in Wonderland.
Thompson recorded the famous song Eloise in 1956, which sealed her fame. She is herself hyperactive and always positive. Like Eloise, Thompson also lived in The Plaza for several years.
A shrine to Eloise