"I would like to play a really good but small role in a really prestigous picture," she said in 1960. "I've been Betty Anderson so long now that whenever producers do think of me they think of a 15- or 16-year old girl."
Born in Tacoma, Washington as Mary Eleanor Donahue, Elinor first sang on the radio at age 2. She performed as a vaudeville dancer at age 4, touring the Pacific Northwest. A year later Elinor's mother moved her to Los Angeles and she signed a contract with Universal Studios She appeared in her first movie, "Mister Big" with Donald O'Connor at age 7.
"I didn't really decide (to go into show business), it was decided for me," she said.
As a young child Elinor worked with stars Ray Bolger, Liz Taylor and Sammy Davis, Jr., and landed bit parts in movies as a contract player. Although she experienced the glamour and glitz of Hollywood, Elinor and her mother lived through some hard times.
"There were times when they literally weren't eating," a friend said of Elinor and her mother in the 1960 TV Guide article. "Elinor wasn't always working and wasn't exactly overpaid when she did work."