Actress. A respected performer with roughly 80 film credits over a half-century career, she is perhaps best remembered as the villainous Baroness Else Schraeder in 1965's Oscar-winning classic "The Sound of Music". Raised in Cleveland from a young age, she appeared in numerous local stage productions, graduated from Shaw High School, then moved to Southern California to study at the Pasadena Playhouse. Signed by Warner Brothers, she made her 1941 silver screen debut with a small role in "They Died With Their Boots On"; seen in 1942's "The Big Shot", Eleanor gradually received larger roles while gracing the covers and pages of movie magazines and was established as a romantic lead with 1944's "Between Two Worlds and the 1945 "Pride of the Marines". She was to earn the first of her three Academy Award nominations as an unjustly convicted and then abused prisoner in 1950's "Caged", a role that garnered her Best Actress honors at the Venice Film Festival, then receive the second as Kirk Douglas' wife in the 1951 "Detective Story". Keeping busy, Eleanor was Frank Sinatra's wheelchair-bound drug addict wife in 1952's "The Man With the Golden Arm", Charlton Heston's mail order bride in "The Naked Jungle" (1955), and also in 1955 portrayed polio stricken Wagnerian soprano Marjorie Lawrence in "Interrupted Melody", receiving her third Oscar nomination for a part that required her to learn 21 opera arias and mime them convincingly as the great Eileen Farrell supplied Marjorie's singing voice. She co-starred with Clark Gable in 1956's "The King and Four Queens" and in the 1957 "Lizzie" played a woman with multiple personality disorder, her work acclaimed, though the film had the misfortune to be released the same year as the better known "The Three Faces of Eve". Seen in 1959's "A Hole in the Head" and the 1961 "Return to Peyton Place", she began appearing on the small screen and earned a 1963 Emmy nomination for the medical drama "The Eleventh Hour"; cast as the jealous Baroness in "The Sound of Music", she was praised for her part in an all-time blockbuster. Continuing to work in cinema, television, and, occasionally, the theater, she appeared on such shows as "Bracken's World", "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.", "Hawaii Five-O", "The Love Boat", "Fantasy Island", and "Murder, She Wrote", was last seen on the big screen in the 1979 flop "Sunburn", and earned her final credit with the 1991 television movie "Dead on the Money". Married four times, her last husband was theater executive Raymond Hirsch (deceased 2001); her story is told in Doug McClelland's "The Woman of a Thousand Faces". Eleanor lived out her days in Southern California and died of pneumonia and the complications of advanced age. At her death she had a star on the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame and many of her performances were preserved on DVD.
Bio by: Bob Hufford