Mike and I love classic movies, preferably between the 1930's and 60's. His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Birds, Pillow Talk, The Thin Man, Casablanca, and Some Like It Hot, just to name a few. We like to try new (to us) ones as often as possible.
This past weekend we watched All That Heaven Allows, with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. She plays a cougar which, in the 1950s, was frowned upon, to say the least. Their suburban town is abuzz with the scandal of her dating someone young enough to be her own child!!! (In real life, Jane was only 9 years Rock's senior).
In the last third of the film, an older woman-- a small background character who really only has three lines of dialogue-- comes on and speaks. After she finished her first sentence, I immediately pushed the pause button on the DVD player and screamed, "OH MY GOD, THAT'S MALEFICENT!" Maleficent is, of course, the evil sorceress from Disney's classic Sleeping Beauty, and one of the greatest mega-bitch villains in film history.
We immediately went to the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) to look up the movie and found I was indeed correct. I remembered after seeing her picture that the actress, Eleanor Audley, also did the voice of the wicked stepmother in Cinderella, Lady Tremaine.
Audley worked with animator Marc Davis in both films and he created the characters' facial features to resemble her. Eleanor initially turned down the choice role of Maleficent because she was battling tuberculosis. Thankfully she took the part and her voice acting-- and filmed stage acting in a makeshift costume-- helped bring the character to life in a way that, 50 years later, still can inspire and frighten you.
She also provided the voice of Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion attractions in Disneyland and Walt Disney World, speaking the memorable lines, "Rap on a table. It's time to respond. Send us a message from somewhere beyond!"
She was a well known character actress often playing aristocratic characters and later went on to be a cast regular in the TV show Green Acres.