Ilene Woods was born as Jacqueline Ruth Woods on May 5, 1929, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States. Woods' mother worked behind the scenes of films, taking Woods with her. As a little girl, Woods dreamed about becoming a schoolteacher, but her mother planned to make her a star instead.
In 1948, two songwriters 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 to be used in his then-upcoming film, Cinderella. Two days later, Walt Disney asked Woods to voice the starring role of Cinderella.
She gladly accepted the role, surprised that she had won against more than 300 other auditionees. She only saw Walt Disney after finishing work on Cinderella. Ilene 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."
Ilene Woods died on July 1, 2010, from Alzheimer's disease. She was cremated, and her ashes were given to her family.
- She shares her birthday with Pat Carroll, who is well known for voicing Ursula in The Little Mermaid.
- Her son, James Shaughnessy, predeceased her in a car accident on April 13, 1984.
- She revealed in a 1995 interview for Cinderella that she took her daughter Stephanie (who was 3 at the time) to the premiere of the film, and while in the theater, Stephanie screamed, "My mommy is Cinderella!", and two old women sitting behind them said, "Isn't that sweet? She thinks her mother is Cinderella."