Sunday, September 4, 2011

Actor | Kay Thompson

Even though I have only seen Kay Thompson in the 1957 film Funny Face, I have always been interested in learning more about this stylish lady with a grand voice. It wasn't until today as I watched the special feature on That's Entertainment about the people behind the camera, that I learned that Kay Thompson was so much more than an actress.

"I've discovered the secret of life. A lot of hard work, a lot of sense of humor, a lot of joy and a whole lot of tra la la."

Though she is mainly famous in Hollywood as one of the top vocal coaches to the stars, she started her long career as a singer and choral director on the radio in the 1930's. It wasn't until 1943 that she signed an exclusive contract with MGM to become the studio's head vocal coach, vocal arranger, and choral director.

Not only was she vocal arranger for many of producer Arthur Freed's MGM musicals, she was vocal coach to some of MGM's top musical acts. We're talking such star power as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, Lucille Ball, and Lena Horne. It has been said that she taught these stars how to act with their voices, how to move with their notes and where their sweet spots were. She told them where they should sing, and of course, with her advice these stars won many praises for their beautiful voices. Her relationship with Judy Garland was so close, she was even named godmother of Judy's daughter Liza.

With Judy Garland
Another thing I never realized that the author of the very famous Eloise books, was written by Kay Thompson! Kay collaborated with illustrator Hilary Knight to produce 4 books based on the antics of her goddaughter... though if you asked Kay she would always say "I am Eloise." All 4 books went on to be top sellers and produced the top 40 song "Eloise", which Kay recorded in 1956.

With a doll of Eloise
Kay only acted in one film, Funny Face. Her character was based on Harper's Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland. In the film she performs solo and along side Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. Such songs as "Think Pink!", "How To Be Lovely", and "Clap Yo' Hands" were recorded for this wonderful film.

On the set of Funny Face

Kay Thompson was vocal arranger for many films that are loved by many classic film lovers. Films such as Funny Face, Till the Clouds Roll By, The Pirate, The Harvey Girls, and Ziegfeld Follies were among the films touched by Kay Thompson.

After leaving MGM, she created a night club act with The Williams Brother called "Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers." She even helped move along the career of one of those brothers, actor/singer Andy Williams. She was the first person to make a million dollars performing cabaret and her personal style started a fashion trend. She always wore slacks, which was usually against the dress code of the restaurants she performed in. She used her popular style to sell her own line of slacks exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue.

With The Williams Brothers
It's has been a pleasure to learn so much about this wonderful lady. She is now more than just the stylish lady who stole the focus from Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, she was a vocal genius, trend setter, and acclaimed author. A lady who could do it all...

"Failure is a stranger to me. Enthusiasm and imagination can carry you anywhere you want to go, without Vuitton luggage."

With Judy Garland and Vincent Minnelli

With Judy Garland
With Clark Gable
With Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire


  1. For a whole lot more about Kay Thompson, you will enjoy reading my recent book "Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise" (Simon & Schuster), available on and wherever books are sold. Kay's hundreds of credits and over 450 pages of additional endnotes are available exclusively on my website:

  2. I am enjoying it immensely! Thank you!!♥♥