) American singer
Remembered now for her appearance with Fred Astaire
and Cyd Charisse
in Funny Face
for being the godmother
of Liza Minelli
, but mostly for writing Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grownups
and its sequels
A child prodigy, playing piano at the age of four, she appeared
with the St. Louis Symphony at 15. Moving to California, she would
appear on the radio with the Mills brothers, Fred Waring, and finally her own show.
Soon she was hired by MGM as a composer, but it was her arrangements
for other singers that got everyone's attention. Whether it was Frank Sinatra
or Gene Kelly, Lena Horne or Judy Garland, MGM sent them to Kay for their
In 1948, she put together a nightclub act of skits and songs at Ciro's in Hollywood,
backed up by the Williams Brothers. One night, backstage, she invented a persona of
a 6 year old girl, Eloise. The character was so popular, that with the help of illustrator
Hilary Knight, they created the Eloise books.
The success of the books allowed her to exit show business gracefully, but
nonetheless remained somewhat of a celebrity throughout the 1960s, a holdover from the glamour
days of Hollywood.
In the 1980s, when Donald Trump purchased the Plaza Hotel, site of the many Eloise books,
he inquired into using Eloise in advertising.
Thompson refused because Trump refused to give her a free room at the hotel (as previous
owners had done).