Madame Leota is one of the ghosts haunting the Haunted Mansion in the DIsney Parks franchise the Haunted Mansion.
Madame Leota only briefly appears in the actual attraction in the mansion's séance chamber where she recites a supernatural incantation to materialize the souls of the ghosts in Haunted Mansion. In Disney World's Haunted Mansion she has a tombstone in the Haunted Mansion's family plot where the metal mould of her face occasionally pushes itself out and opens its eyes to look at guests. She also is given a gift shop in the Magic Kingdom called Memento Mori where she is portrayed as having once been a witch during the 1690s who inadvertently caused the notorious witch trials of Salem and subsequently fleeing to upstate New York where she befriended the Gracey family. In Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, she has a cart found outside the mansion which portrays that version of the character as having been a Romani street performer from the 19th century. Ultimately, Madame Leota's character history changes drastically depending on which variation of the ride you are at.
The 2003 Movie
Madame Leota appears in the 2003 film the Haunted Mansion where she is portrayed by comedian Jennifer Tilly. This incarnation of the character is drastically different from that typically portrayed, being a sassy and benevolent ghost who speaks almost exclusively in rhyme. In the film, Leota is initially shown to be aligned with the more antagonistic ghosts of the mansion but almost instantly switches to siding with the Evers Family in the mansion to help them escape the manor. Ultimately Leota helps the family free the souls from the Haunted Mansion however she herself never moves onto the next life for reasons which are never even attempted to be explained. Her backstory in the film is never even implied towards outside of Ramsley referring to her as a "Gypsy" (something which is completely false as Jennifer Tilly is of no Romani ethnicity) however her origin is expanded on in the Legend of Gracey Manor backstory which was created to accompany the film. In this version of her origins, Madame Leota was a "romani" medium who moved into the mansion to serve the then lady of the house Abigail Gracey (who is loosely inspired by the Black Widow Bride) as Abigail wished to come into contact with the ghosts of her two eldest children who had died of Scarlet Fever. Leota's death in this story is never explained.
The Ghost Gallery
In the cast-member created Ghost Gallery storyline created to give some unofficial mythos to Disney World's Haunted Mansion, Madame Leota is one of the most prominent characters and serves as a form of main-antagonist to the backstory. In this version of the backstory, Madame Leota is said to have been the child of a Haitian Voodoo Bokor and a Romani woman which he had kidnapped. Leota was trained in black magic by her father and ultimately wound up moving to the city of New Orleans. In New Orleans, she targeted a wealthy New York man named George Gracey jr. (who is a composite character of the Ghost Host and Master Gracey) who she seduced and entranced with her dark magic as he was obsessed with the occult, and she subsequently manipulated her way into moving into his mansion in upstate New York. Leota had a secret affair with George, with the two being lovers behind his wife Lillian Gracey's back, with George even being the father of Leota's daughter Little Leota. Living in Gracey Manor, Leota practiced her dark magic and was responsible for the deaths of several of the Haunted Mansion's residents, guests and servants, having killed Lillian Gracey (the Tightrope Walker), Victoria Abigail Boufont (the Birthday Ghost), Wolfgang Furlong (the Organist), and all twelve of the ballroom dancers seen in the ride. When George remarried after the death of his wife Lillian, Leota became consumed by jealousy and murdered his new bride Emily (the attic Bride) resulting in George locking himself away from the world in grief, slowly going insane. Years later, George learned that Leota was responsible for his melancholy and in retaliation she attempted to place a spell that would trap his soul in her crystal ball only for George to commit suicide causing the spell to backstory and trap Leota in the ball herself.
The Mystery of the Manse
Leota's appearance in the Slave Labor Graphic Haunted Mansion comic book series is largely inspired by the Ghost Gallery but is here altered to take place in New Orleans during the 19th century rather than New York in the 1940s. Here Leota is said to have been the personal medium of Captain William Gracey (who is a composite character of Master Gracey, the Ghost Host and Captain Gore) who was employed to fend off the souls of those that William killed at sea when he was a pirate, namely his former captain Randall Pace (the Hatbox Ghost). Leota wished to become the lover of William but he was in love with his fiancée Emily DeClaire (this story's Attic Bride). So on Emily and William's wedding day, Leota summoned the soul of Randall Pace who murdered Emily before the wedding prompting the enraged William to strangle her to death.
- The name Madame Leota comes from Leota's face actress Leota Toombs. Originally it was planned for Madame Leota's voice-actress Eleanor Audley to provide Leota's face and Leota Toombs was simply planned to be a reference model for the technology. However the imagineers liked the recording of Leota's face so much that they used it for the character and had Eleanor Audley do a voice-over.
- Leota's face is that of imagineer Leota Toombs while her voice is of voice-actress Eleanor Audley (who also voiced Maleficent and Lady Tremaine) however the character of the Ghostess who appears towards the end of the ride is both voiced and portrayed by Leota Toombs.