Ilene Woods, voice of Cinderella, dies

Ilene Woods, who voiced the part of Cinderella in Disney's 1950 animated feature, has died at age 81.

Singer was 18 when Walt Disney chose her for title character

Ilene Woods, the voice of Cinderella in Disney's classic animated film, has died at age 81.

Woods died Thursday of causes related to Alzheimer's disease at a nursing home in the Los Angeles area, said her husband, Ed Shaughnessy, who was a longtime drummer with Doc Severinsen's band on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.
Ilene Woods was chosen by Walt Disney to be the voice of Cinderella in his animated classic after Disney had auditioned some 300 other singers. ((Ed Shaughnessy/Associated Press))

The singer was working in radio in 1948 when she recorded a demo tape for an upcoming Disney film as a favour to two songwriting friends. That favour turned into a big opportunity as Walt Disney himself decided to audition her two days later . 

Disney had already heard about 300 singers and wasn't satisfied until he heard Woods, who was only 18 at the time. She voiced the speaking and singing parts over a two-year period for the title character in  Cinderella, released in 1950.

"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 [Cinderella] would watch me record and picked up on things."

Woods also sang on the Perry Como and Arthur Godfrey shows before retiring in the 1970s.

She was declared a Disney Legend in 2003.

With files from The Associated Press