Woods' mother worked behind the scenes of films, taking Ilene with her. Ilene started acting at the age of two. When she was 15 years old, she was given her own radio show on the new station called The Blue Network on ABC Radio during the summer of 1944, The Ilene Woods Show. The entire show was 15 minutes of music 3 days a 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.
Later years and deathEdit
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. 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. 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).