TIMELINE

1948  While on a night-club tour, one day Kay Thompson was late for a rehearsal. As she arrived, she was asked, "Who do you think you are, coming

here five minutes late?" Thompson replied, "I am Eloise. I am six," in a high childish voice.

Thompson began entertaining fellow performers with the prattle of the little girl. The other performers each invented a juvenile identity and joined the game.

1954  Kay Thompson is encouraged to put Eloise into book form and is introduced to illustrator Hilary Knight.

Knight sends a Christmas card to Thompson - his first conception of Eloise. According to Thompson, the card was "an interesting, beautifully executed and highly stylized picture of an angel and Santa Claus, streaking through the sky on a Christmas tree. On the end of the tree, grinning a lovely grin, her wild hair standing on end, was Eloise. It was immediate recognition on my part. There she was. In person."

1955  Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight "holed up at the Plaza" and "wrote, edited, laughed, outlined, cut,

pasted, laughed again, read out loud, laughed and suddenly we had a book."

Kay Thompson's Eloise: A book for precocious grownups is published on November 28 by Simon and Schuster. 1956  Kay Thompson forms Eloise, Ltd. headquartered appropriately at the Plaza Hotel (PLaza 8-2665). Eloise endorsed Kalistron luggage and Kay Thompson recorded the song "Eloise" with Archie Bleyer on Cadence Records. Playhouse 90 presents Eloise "based on the hilarious best-selling story about the sprightly six-year old girl who runs -- and often runs ragged -- the lives of the celebrated guests and devoted employees of a distinguished New York hotel." The script departed wildly from the book. In it, Eloise was caught in the middle of her parents' threatened divorce in a hotel filled with intrigue. The reviews were savage and Thompson resolved that she would never allow Eloise to be dramatized again. 1957  Eloise had the approval of Good Housekeeping and Eloise dolls, hotel emergency kits and clothes were introduced across the country. In Paris, Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight went to work on a sequel. Thompson put Eloise in a small Left Bank hotel, the Relais Bisson. Knight sketched Paris scenery -- the Pont Neuf, pigeons at Fouquet's. 1958  Kay Thompson's Eloise In Paris is published on November 14 by Simon and Schuster. Simon & Schuster planned a record ad campaign for Eloise in Paris. Eloise endorsed Renault automobiles and there was more merchandise: Eloise Easter bonnets and Eloise French postcards debuted in the spring. At the Plaza Hotel, Thompson staged tea parties at which she vamped as Eloise. She helped to mastermind the special Plaza menu for children with "Teeny Weenies" and "Eggs Eloise." Kay Thompson's Eloise at Christmastime is published on September 30 by Random House. 1959  In February, Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight headed for a 3 1/2 week trip to Moscow and set up at the National Hotel. Many nights they went to the Bolshoi, Knight later recalled. Thompson was so famous, that when she came back she made an album, Kay Thompson Party: Let's Talk About Russia. Kay Thompson's Eloise in Moscow is published on October 30 by Simon and Schuster. 1964  In the summer, Hilary Knight returned to Rome to work with Kay Thompson on their fifth Eloise collaboration. Knight had drawn hundreds of sketches for a new idea -- Eloise lolling in an overflowing bathtub and deluging movie stars in fox coats and the Plaza hotel's long-suffering manager, Mr. Salomone. Eloise Takes a Bawth was scheduled for a November release. Just as it was ready to go to press, Thompson pulled it from the publisher. It has never been published. 1969  In June, Simon and Schuster reissues the original Eloise with a first printing of 9300 and a quick second printing of 6500 more. In this printing, a few minor changes are made from the 1955 edition. Kay Thompson, now living in Rome, returns to the Plaza for the new edition of "Eloise." Thompson says that she hopes to design a line of children's clothes of the sort she thinks suit Eloise and her empire." 1972  Kay Thompson gives her final formal interview to Rex Reed for Harper's Bazaar Magazine. Ms.Thompson said that she was on the verge of publishing her fifth book, Eloise's Wit and Observations, but she never did. 1969  The copyright for Kay Thompson's Eloise: A book for precocious grownups is renewed and the book remains in print. More than half a million copies have been sold since the copyright renewal. Decades earlier, Kay Thompson had ultimately refused to allow Eloise in Paris, Eloise in Moscow, and Eloise at Christmastime to remain in print. 1989  The new owner of the Plaza Hotel, Donald Trump, wants to use Eloise in hotel advertising. Hilary Knight is hired to design a children's suite with murals commemorating Eloise and children's menus for the Plaza with Eloise drawings. Kay Thompson refused to authorize the use of Eloise to promote the hotel and the work was never done. Why did she sever her relationship with the Plaza? Trump refused to provide Thompson with a free room at the hotel where she had lived rent-free for years, courtesy of the previous owners. 1992  Eloise in Paris was to be re-released by Simon and Schuster. Publicity was planned and posters were made, but at the last minute, Thompson changed her mind and pulled the book. 1995  The fortieth anniversary of Eloise is celebrated with many parties, one of note at the Plaza Hotel. A special anniversary edition of the book is published by Simon and Schuster.There were limited editions of 250 signed and numbered by Knight for special collections. Hilary Knight designs an anniversary lithograph and original artwork to commemorate the occasion. 1998  Kay Thompson dies in Manhattan on July 2. She was either 92 or 95. Thompson would have enjoyed the slight discrepancy. Ms. Thompson's rights have passed to a sister, Blanche Hurd, who lives in California, said the estate's lawyer, Arthur F. Abelman. With Hurd's assent, Simon & Schuster plans to reissue sequels first published in the late 50's. "Eloise in Paris" is on the spring list, to be followed by "Eloise at Christmastime" in the fall 1999. Also planned for next spring is a new edition of the original, "The Essential Eloise," which will include annotations about its colorful author. 1999  Simon and Schuster announces plans "rawther extraordinary marketing" for Eloise books. First, there will be Eloise, The Absolutely Essential Edition, the classic Eloise story with a 16 page Eloise scrapbook, by Vanity Fair writer Marie Brenner and illustrated with never-before-seen photographs, memorabilia and sketches from the collection of Hilary Knight. This book is being billed as "Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight's" The Absolutely Essential Eloise (Eloise fans out there will notice that for the first time, Hilary Knight gets co-billing). S&S is also re-releasing Eloise in Paris that has been out of print for thirty-five years. There will be limited editions of 250 for rawther special collections of each book. They will be signed and numbered by Knight. Eloise at Christmastime is scheduled for a fall release. The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company wins the bid to make an Eloise movie. In October, Sim & Schuster and The itsy bitsy entertainment Company co-host Eloise’s Pink and Black Ball at the Plaza, of course, to “introduce Eloise to Society” and celebrate the reissue of the Eloise sequels that had been out of print for 35 years. 2000  Eloise’s Guide to Life is published, using quotes and illustrations from the four classic Eloise books.  Hilary Knight created six new drawings of Eloise and the cover for this new volume about Eloise. 2002  Having been pulled from publication in 1964, Eloise Takes a Bawth, the first new Eloise book in 40 years is published.   This is a refurbished edition authorized by Thompson's estate with “additional plumbing” by Mart Crowley and drawings by HIlary Knight. The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company closes and their parent company, The Handleman Company assigns the Eloise film, television and merchandisng rights to Patrick Meehan’s Handmade FIlms.  Meehan makes plans for several major motion pictures and a Broadway musical about Eloise. 2003 Eloise at the Plaza is released as a made-for-tv movie on April 27 as a presentation of “The Wonderful World of Disney.”  Eloise at Christmastime debuts November 22, also on ABC. 2005 Eloise celebrates her 50th Anniversary.  Simon and Schuster issues “Eloise: The Absolutely Essential Edition” with a 50th Anniversary Edition banner. It contains a wonderful scrapbook about Eloise, Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight with never before seen photos and sketches. D.D. Ryan, Eloise’s “godmother” died on July 24. She was a friend to both Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight.  D.D. urged Kay to write the Eloise book and brought Hilary Knight, who lived in the same apartment building, to meet Kay and constantly urged the book to completion. Eloise and her story continues to this day.
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"Eloise is one of the more delightfully fiendish literary heroines of our time." -- Edward I. Koch (former NYC mayor!!!)

Timeline