November 22, 2011
Ahhhh Eloise. Who doesn’t love this little scamp? She’s precocious, chatty, and cheeky, lives in New York City’s Plaza Hotel, torments her Nanny and the hotel staff, has a pet turtle named Skipperdee (he eats raisins she’s ordered from room service) and a pug called Weenie. She’s a busy one for all of six years old and she’s a favourite of several generations of storybook readers for sure. I couldn’t even begin to do justice to all of the reincarnations of Eloise out there so instead I offer this link to her home page where you’ll read about her various stories and the background. Meanwhile for present-day activities at The Plaza Hotel be certain to take a peek here.
Eloise was first published in 1955 and is a product of the imagination of one Kay Thompson – a musical performer, renowned vocal arranger for the likes of Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, actress famed for her appearance with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in Funny Face and a generally quirky character herself. She collaborated with illustrator Hilary Knight who was perfectly skilled in bringing to life the words of Kay in the form of our beloved Eloise. It seems obvious that Eloise was just a smaller version of the real-life Kay though rumours swirl that her God-daughter Liza Minnelli was the inspiration. To straighten out this story and learn more about the lively Kay Thompson I’m delighted to report we can turn to the pages of a newly released biography by Sam Irvin.
If you think Eloise is a handful, you’ll be astonished by the sassiness of her creator. This quote from Kay has me hooked on wanting to learn more about her:
I’ve discovered the secret of life: a lot of hard work, a lot of sense of humor, a lot of joy, and a whole lot of tra-la-la!
– Kay Thompson