Ilene Woods, who provided the speaking and singing voice for the title character in Walt Disney's classic 1950 animated feature " Cinderella," has died. She was 81.

Woods, a Calabasas resident, died of causes related to Alzheimer's disease Thursday at a nursing and rehabilitation center in Canoga Park, said her husband, Ed Shaughnessy, the former longtime drummer on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show."

Woods was a busy 18-year-old singer on radio in 1948 when, as a favor to two songwriter friends, Jerry Livingston and Mack David, she recorded a "demo" of a few songs they had written for Walt Disney's upcoming animated feature.

"I did the discs for them, in a studio with a piano — 'Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boo,' 'So This Is Love,' 'A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes,' " Woods recalled in a 2005 interview with the Deseret News of Salt Lake City.

"Two days later, Walt called. He wanted me to come over and have an interview. I gladly said, 'Yes, anytime you say.' We met and talked for awhile, and he said, 'How would you like to be Cinderella?' "At the time, Woods was unaware that more than 300 singers had auditioned to be the voice of Cinderella, and she had no idea her demo recording would lead her to take part in a significant piece of Disney history.

Ever since then, as she was fond of saying, "I never hesitate to do a favor for a friend."After being offered the role of the sweet and mistreated stepdaughter who ultimately finds her Prince Charming, Woods spent about two years off and on recording songs and dialogue at the Disney studio.

"I loved doing the character," she told the Houston Chronicle in 2005. "When my dad saw the movie, he said he saw me in the facial expressions, hand movements and mannerisms. Marc Davis, who animated [the Cinderella character], would watch me record and picked up on things."

She enjoyed working at the Disney studio, she said. "Walt would sit down at the table with us at meals, and we discussed the movie together. It was just magical. There was a happiness and joy."

The singing voice for Cinderella's Prince Charming was supplied by singer and future TV talk-show host Mike Douglas; William Edward Phipps did the talking for Prince Charming. And, he told The Times on Friday, he thought Woods "was ideal" as Cinderella.

 Source: Los Angeles Times
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