Kay Thompson


Actor
Kay Thompson

About

Also Known As
Kitty Fink
Birth Place
St Louis, Missouri, USA
Born
November 09, 1902
Died
July 02, 1998

Biography

This angular, stylish and acerbic actress and singer also wrote some of the most beloved children's books of the mid-20th Century. Kay Thompson came a long way from St. Louis by the early 1930s, when she was an accomplished pianist and singer on the radio and in nightclubs. She had her own CBS show in 1935, and made her Broadway debut in 1937's "Hooray for What!" with music by Harold Arl...

Family & Companions

Jack Jenney
Husband
Bandleader. Married in the 1930s; divorced.
William Spier
Husband
Radio writer and producer. Divorced.

Bibliography

"Kay Thompson's Miss Pooky Peckinpaugh and Her Secret Private Boyfriends Complete with Telephone Numbers"
(1970)
"Eloise in Moscow"
Kay Thompson, Simon & Schuster (1959)
"Eloise at Christmastime"
Kay Thompson, Simon & Schuster (1958)
"Eloise in Paris"
Kay Thompson, Simon & Schuster (1957)

Biography

This angular, stylish and acerbic actress and singer also wrote some of the most beloved children's books of the mid-20th Century. Kay Thompson came a long way from St. Louis by the early 1930s, when she was an accomplished pianist and singer on the radio and in nightclubs. She had her own CBS show in 1935, and made her Broadway debut in 1937's "Hooray for What!" with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E Y 'Yip' Harburg. Although she suffered the devastating experience of being fired from the musical, Thompson bounced back by landing a spot at MGM as a musical arranger and vocal coach to such stars as Lena Horne and Judy Garland. By the late 40s, she was again popular on the nightclub and concert circuit.

Thompson had appeared in the films "Manhattan Merry-Go-Round" (1937) and "The Kid From Brooklyn" (1946), but her film career really hadn't amounted to much. In 1957, though, she played the role which forever defined her: Maggie Prescott in Stanley Donen's delightful "Funny Face." The film starred Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, but Thompson, as a flamboyant magazine editor obviously based on Diana Vreeland, all but stole the film (her opening "Think Pink!" number is a high point). Thompson's only other film was "Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon" (1970), starring her god-daughter Liza Minnelli.

Perhaps Thompson's most lasting contribution is also her most atypical. In 1955, she collaborated with illustrator Hilary Knight on the children's book "Kay Thompson's Eloise," the story of a wry, mischievous little girl who lives in New York's Plaza Hotel. The book became a sensation with children and adults alike, and continues to sell well. It was followed by the sequels "Eloise in Paris" (1957), "Eloise at Christmastime" (1958) ad "Eloise in Moscow" (1959). There was also a badly-received TV adaptation, "Eloise" (CBS, 1956).

Thompson appeared on the small screen only a handful of times, including the "Standard Oil Anniversary Show" (NBC, 1957) and the "Burke's Law" pilot "Amos Burke: Who Killed Julie Greer?" (NBC, 1961). She retired from public life in the mid-70s and lived thereafter as a recluse in Rome and New York.

Life Events

1928

Was pianist with the St Louis Symphony

1937

Briefly appeared in Broadway show "Hooray for What!"

1937

Film debut, "Manhattan Merry-Go-Round"

1944

Hired as vocal coach and arranger by MGM

1947

Sang with the Williams Brothers in nightclubs

1948

Sang at New York's Le Directoire

1955

Published "Kay Thompson's Eloise"

1957

Co-starred in the film "Funny Face"

1970

Final film, "Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon"

Videos

Movie Clip

Funny Face (1957) - Let's Kiss And Make Up After a minor dispute, in Paris, between Fred Astaire as photographer Dick and Audrey Hepburn as reluctant model Jo, director Stanley Donen finishes the song by George & Ira Gershwin and Fred solos, in Paramount’s Funny Face, 1957.
Funny Face (1957) - She's A Thinker Having difficulty making their model (Dovima) look brainy, fashion editor Maggie (Kay Thompson) and photographer Dick (Fred Astaire) seize a Greenwich Village bookstore, finding co-star Audrey Hepburn as clerk Jo, early in director Stanley Donen’s Funny Face, 1957.
Funny Face (1957) - Title Song Fred Astaire (as fashion photographer Dick Avery, based on Richard Avedon) is in the dark room explaining to bookish Jo (Audrey Hepburn, title character) why he wants to take her to Paris to be photographed, song from the original George & Ira Gershwin 1927 musical, in Funny Face. 1957.
Funny Face (1957) - Think Pink The de facto opening number, an original for the movie by Roger Edens and Leonard Gershe, Kay Thompson as fashion editor Maggie Prescott is inspired to wake up the next issue of “Quality” magazine, Eugene Loring choreography, in Funny Face, 1957, starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn.
Ziegfeld Follies (1946) - My Next Picture Just the closing minutes of this segment called "A Great Lady Gives An Interview," song by Roger Edens and Kay Thompson, Judy Garland as a Hollywood diva, Charles Walters directing, a piece Greer Garson is said to have declined, in the MGM variety musical Ziegfeld Follies, 1946.

Trailer

Family

Marion Fink
Sister
Liza Minnelli
Goddaughter

Companions

Jack Jenney
Husband
Bandleader. Married in the 1930s; divorced.
William Spier
Husband
Radio writer and producer. Divorced.

Bibliography

"Kay Thompson's Miss Pooky Peckinpaugh and Her Secret Private Boyfriends Complete with Telephone Numbers"
(1970)
"Eloise in Moscow"
Kay Thompson, Simon & Schuster (1959)
"Eloise at Christmastime"
Kay Thompson, Simon & Schuster (1958)
"Eloise in Paris"
Kay Thompson, Simon & Schuster (1957)
"Kay Thompson's Eloise"
Kay Thompson, Simon & Schuster (1955)