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 1946, she married Stephen Steck, Jr., but they divorced some time later. She had with him one daughter named Stephanie Steck (born May 14, 1947).
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 auditioners. She only saw Walt Disney after finishing work on Cinderella. 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."
In 1963, she married Ed Shaughnessy. She had with him two sons named Daniel Shaughnessy (born September 24, 1968) and James Shaughnessy (April 4, 1966 - April 13, 1984).
Ilene Woods died in July 1, 2010 from Alzheimer's disease. She was cremated, and her ashes were given to her family.