Ellen Albertini Dow, who stole everyone’s heart when she performed “Rapper’s Delight,” in the 1998 Adam Sandler movie, The Wedding Singer, has sadly passed away. She was 101. Her longtime manager, Juliet Green, confirmed the news yesterday, 5/4/2015, to Deadline.
Albertini Dow was born in 1913, as the seventh, and youngest child of Italian immigrant parents. By five, she was already studying dance and piano, and later moved to New York, where she studied and worked with dancers Hanya Holm and Martha Graham.
She then began to focus on acting, where she learned under Michael Shurtleff and Uta Hagen, and worked with mimes Marcel Marceau and Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Her perfected her comedic timing when she performed in a comedy troupe in the Borscht Belt at the Second Avenue Theatre in New York. After that, she moved west to teach drama at Los Angeles City College, and then transferred to Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley, where she and her husband, Eugene Dow started the theater department. She retired teaching in 1985, and went to study acting at the American Film Institute, she was 72.
She appeared on The Twilight Zone, My Blue Heaven, Sister Act, Murphy Brown, The Golden Girls, Seinfeld, Wedding Crashers, and more. She’s probably best remembered as the rapping grandma, with her rendition of “Rapper’s Delight” was on the film’s soundtrack, which went double platinum. and for performing the beautiful version of “Till There Was You.” She appeared on TV as recently as two years ago on New Girl.
Ellen Albertini Dow, who made a career out of being an spunky older woman, will be missed dearly. She stands as a woman who proved you’re never too old to do something new, and is a hero among comedic actresses. She is survived by many loving nieces and nephews.
In her honor, check out her performance in The Wedding Singer.