Ilene Woods
Ilene Woods.png
Performing for ABC in the 1940s
Jacqueline Ruth Woods

(1929-05-05)May 5, 1929
DiedJuly 1, 2010(2010-07-01) (aged 81)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1941–1985
Stephen Steck Jr.
(m. 1946; div. 1954)

(m. 1963)
AwardsDisney Legend (2003)

Jacqueline Ruth Woods (May 5, 1929 – July 1, 2010) better known as Ilene Woods, was an American actress and singer. Woods was the original voice of the title character of the Walt Disney animated feature Cinderella, for which she was named a Disney Legend in 2003.

Early life

Her mother worked behind the scenes of films, taking Woods with her. As a little girl, Woods dreamed about becoming a schoolteacher, but her mother wanted her to become a singer. By 1944, she gained her own radio program.[1][2] During World War II, she toured with Paul Whiteman and the Army Air Forces Orchestra.[2]


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".[3] 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 others who had auditioned. She said in an interview for Classic Film, "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."[3] To promote Cinderella, Woods voiced Snow White in the 1949 Disney audiobook release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.[4] Woods sang for President Franklin D. Roosevelt at his home in Hyde Park. She also sang at the White House for President Truman, after singing for soldiers and sailors.[5] 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 a daughter, Stephanie.[6] After a divorce, she married The Tonight Show drummer Ed Shaughnessy in 1963. Woods and Shaughnessy had two sons, James and Daniel.[5][6]

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 (1955) had won her lawsuit the previous April and a 1989 suit by Mary Costa of Sleeping Beauty (1959) was still pending.[7] Voice actress Jennifer Hale replaced Woods as the voice of Cinderella in the 2002 film Cinderella II: Dreams Come True. In 2003, Woods was awarded a Disney Legend award for her voicework on the film Cinderella. In an interview with Starlog in 2006 Woods said, "I love the idea that after I’m gone, children will still be hearing my voice [as Cinderella]."[8]

Woods died from complications of Alzheimer's disease at a care facility in Canoga Park, Los Angeles on July 1, 2010, at the age of 81.[2] No service was held; Woods was cremated.[9]



Year Title Role Notes
1945 On Stage Everybody Talent Show Winner No. 3
1950 Cinderella Cinderella Voice (age 20)
1972 The Godfather Elena - Matron Uncredited
1975 Mirror Scrub Woman Uncredited


Year Title Role Notes
1944 The Philco Hall of Fame Singer
1944 The Ilene Woods Show Herself/Host


  1. ^ "Ilene Woods, voice of Disney's Cinderella, dead at 81". July 2, 2010. Archived from the original on November 8, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c McLellan, Dennis (July 3, 2010). "Ilene Woods dies at 81; voice of Disney's Cinderella". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 6, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Ilene Woods, the Voice of Cinderella, Passes Away at 81". Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  4. ^ 45 Discography for RCA Records – 47-0000 series Global Dog Productions, Retrieved June 21, 2017
  5. ^ a b "Disney Legends – Ilene Woods". Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Sibley, Brian (July 19, 2010). "Ilene Woods obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved October 6, 2022.
  7. ^ Los Angeles Times News Service. "'Cinderella' files lawsuit against Disney," The New Mexican (Santa Fe, New Mexico), December 28, 1990, page A-3.
  8. ^ Weaver, Tom (March 2006). "The Cinderella Waltz/Cinderella Story". Starlog (343): 18–21. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  9. ^ Wilson, Scott (September 16, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476625997. Retrieved August 18, 2017 – via Google Books.