Evelyn Rudie is a playwright, director, songwriter, film and television actress and teacher. Since 1973, she has been the co-artistic director of the Santa Monica Playhouse. As an award-winning costume designer, she uses the pseudonym Ashley Hayes.
In 1956, Rudie became an overnight star with her performance in the title role of Eloise on television’s Playhouse 90. It brought her critical acclaim, much press coverage and an Emmy nomination at age six?the first time a child actress was so honored. She returned to Playhouse 90 the following year portraying the young Perle Mesta in The Hostess with the Mostest.
The television Eloise was an adaptation of the popular book by Kay Thompson, which owed much to the delicate line illustrations of Hilary Knight. The marketing of Eloise and the subsequent book sequels practically always featured the illustrations of Knight, and numerous photographs were published in the 1950s of Rudie in the role. However, Rudie’s popularity as a child star led to the merchandising of at least one product which did not associate her with the character of Eloise. This was Evelyn Rudie Paper Dolls, published by Saalfield in 1958.
During the late 1950s, she acted on other leading television shows, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, General Electric Theater, Lawman, The Red Skelton Show and Wagon Train, along with seven appearances on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar. During this period, she also was an actress on radio programs, including Suspense.