Actress-writer Kay Thompson

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on May 13, 2001

What became of Kay Thompson, who appeared in Funny Face and later wrote the Eloise books?
—Barbara D., North Carolina

Kay Thompson died in 1998 at the age of 95 in New York, where she lived with her goddaughter, Liza Minelli. Thompson created two unforgettable characters—the precocious Eloise and magazine editor Maggie Prescott. She had no children. The jeweler's daughter was born Kitty Fink in St. Louis. A gifted pianist and vocalist, she attended George Washington University before joining the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in 1928. She then moved on to cabaret, joining the Mills Brothers on a radio show and performing with the Fred Waring Band. Thompson got her own CBS radio show in 1935. She made her Broadway debut in Hooray for What in 1937 and later joined MGM as a musical arranger and vocal coach to Lena Horne and Judy Garland, the mother of her goddaughter. Thompson starred in the movies The Ziegfield Follies, The Kid From Brooklyn, and Funny Face with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. She created Eloise in 1955, and those books of the girl raised at the Plaza Hotel remain best sellers today.