Jacqueline Ruth "Ilene" Woods (May 5, 1929 - July 1, 2010) was an American voice actress and singer. Woods was the voice of the title character of the Walt Disney animated classic Cinderella, for which she was named as a Disney Legend in 2003.
Woods' mother worked behind the scenes of films, taking Ilene with her. Ilene started acting at the age of two. At the age of 15 Ilene was engaged, along with Bob Johnstone, by Paul Whiteman to sing on his summer 1944 replacement show, "The Philco Hall of Fame" on the NBC Blue Network (which later became ABC Radio). The network quickly added her own radio program during that same summer, The Ilene Woods Show. The entire show was 15 minutes of music, broadcast three days per week. Many songwriters came on the show to present their music; this is how she became friends with Mack David and Jerry Livingston. She then moved to California.
In 1948, two of her songwriter friends, Mack David and Jerry Livingston, called Woods to record "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes", and "So This is Love". Soon, the songs were presented to Walt Disney so that they could be used in the English version of Cinderella. Walt Disney heard the demo recordings, and two days later asked Ilene to voice the star role of Cinderella. She gladly accepted the role, surprised that she had won against more than 300 other auditioners. She said in a recent interview for Classicfilm, "Seeing it the film in its new form was breathtaking for me. It's so beautiful. The color is magnificent, it just took my breath away, it was so wonderful. I sort of forget when I'm watching the movie that I had anything to do with it. Yet, it brings back so many beautiful memories of working with the wonderful artists and working with Walt mostly. It brings back wonderful, wonderful memories." Woods sang for President Roosevelt at his home in Hyde Park. She also sang at the White House for President Truman, after singing for the soldiers and sailors of war. Woods retired from show business in 1972, but she continued to appear at occasional autograph shows.
Later years and death:
She married the first time at the age of 17 to Stephen Steck, Jr. and had one child by that marriage, her daughter Stephanie. After a divorce, she married The Tonight Show drummer Ed Shaughnessy in 1963 and had two sons, James and Daniel. Woods spent her later years as a spokeswoman for United Cerebral Palsy telethons.
When Disney began releasing videocassette versions of its animated films, Woods was one of at least three actresses to file lawsuits over royalties for their performances; at the time of Woods' December 1990 filing, Peggy Lee of Lady and the Tramp had won her lawsuit the previous April and a 1989 suit by Mary Costa of Sleeping Beauty was still pending. In 2003, she was awarded a Disney Legend award for her voicework on the film Cinderella. One of her last film appearances was in Touched by an Angel as night nurse Cassie.
Ilene Woods died on July 1, 2010, from causes related to Alzheimer's disease at a nursing home in Canoga Park. She did not recognize a lot of what was going on around her, but the nurses found that she was most comforted by "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes," so they played it for her as often as possible, her husband, Ed Shaughnessy, told the Los Angeles Times. In addition to her husband of 47 years, she was survived by their son, a daughter from her first marriage, and three grandchildren. Her interment was in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills).