Playhouse 90: Eloise (1956)

Run Time - 90 min.  |  
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This highly anticipated and lavishly publicized semi-musical TV adaptation of Kay Thompson's "Eloise" stories stars 7-year-old Evelyn Rudie as the titular 6-year-old heroine. As devotees of the books written by Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight already know, Eloise is a precocious little girl who lives with her Nanny, her dog Weenie (actually a cat) and her turtle Skipperdee at New York's posh Plaza Hotel. Forever sticking her nose into other people's business, Eloise tries to promote a "storybook" romance between a visiting Prince (Louis Jourdan) and a hotel chambermaid (Inger Stevens). Despite the presence of several venerable guest stars playing themselves--including Ethel Barrymore, Monty Woolley, hotelier Conrad Hilton and Kay Thompson herself--"Eloise" was one of the biggest flops in the history of the CBS anthology Playhouse 90. What seemed cute and whimsical in print came off as loud and obnoxious, largely due to the overbearing personality of child actress Evelyn Rudie. Incredibly, several subsequent attempts were made to foist Rudie on the public, including a not-bad episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but the kid never quite became another Shirley Temple, and faded from view after a few years.