Kidd was the daughter of James Kidd. She graduated from Phillips High School and Birmingham-Southern College in 1935 before pursuing graduate studies in French at Columbia University in New York, New York. While there she began a modeling career.
Kidd was the face of Lucky Strike cigarettes in a national ad campaign, but her career may have peaked when jeweler Harry Winston posed her with the 45.5-carat Hope diamond before he donated it to the Smithsonian Institution. Two prints of her portrait photograph, taken by Bradford Bachrach, were overpainted by artist Charles Dennis.
She returned to Birmingham to work in her family's Sunnyland Refining Company and came to be called the "Margarine Queen". She was well-known for her elaborate parties, including the 1974 Calico Ball, a $1,000-a-plate benefit for St Vincent's Hospital.
She was a benefactor of the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Alabama Ballet. The rotunda at St Vincent's South Tower is named in her honor and UAB has an Eleanor E. Kidd Endowed Chair in Primary Care Medicine.
Kidd's favorite color was pink. She covered the floors of the Mountain Brook Club in pink carpets for one of her "pink parties" and was buried in pink, along with her ballet slippers and ice skates.
- Flythe, Starkey (April 1974) "Stars Fell on Alabama: Birmingham, to be Exact." The Saturday Evening Post.
- Harrison, Lisa (Winter 2003) "A Rare Occasion: Eleanor Kidd '35 was last to wear famous Hope Diamond." 'Southern magazine.
- Harvery, Alec (September 25, 2012) "Birmingham philanthropist Eleanor Kidd has died at age 97." The Birmingham News