Question: Let's go wayyyyy back to the '50s. I'm looking for a show about a little girl named Eloise who lived in the penthouse of the Plaza in New York City. I really want to know who the actress was and what program that was. My sister thinks it was a Playhouse 90 or a Hallmark Theatre. I'd really appreciate any info you could dig up. Thanks. Phyllis B., Sarasota, Fla.
Televisionary: Your sister's a sharp one, Phyllis. Hang onto her.
In 1956, Playhouse 90 presented Eloise, a live broadcast based on author and performer Kay Thompson's popular character, who first appeared in book form. Young Evelyn Rudie played the titular girl, a popular fictional New Yorker who did indeed live at the famed Plaza. Cast members included Hans Conried and Louis Jordan, while Thompson, Ethel Barrymore, Monty Wooley and Conrad Hilton played themselves.
Reviews were tepid at best, and Thompson was so upset by the whole thing that she swore there would never be another screen version of her character. But since her death in 1998, all bets are off. While you still can't find the 1956 version on video as far as I know, look for two upcoming ABC TV movies Eloise at the Plaza and Eloise at Christmastime. The Brady Bunch at the White House's Sofia Vassilieva is set to play Eloise, and Julie Andrews has signed on as her nanny.