Ellen Albertini Dow, a multi-faceted performer and acting coach perhaps best known for spitting a fire rendition of “Rapper’s Delight” in Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer, died Monday, May 4th, Deadline reports. She was 101.
Along with her scene-stealing turn as The Wedding Singer‘s rapping granny (not to be confused with the actual Rappin’ Granny, Vivian Smallwood), Dow has appeared in countless films and TV shows, despite beginning her on-screen career as a septuagenarian.
Dow’s film credits included parts in Sister Act, Patch Adams and 54, while her feisty demeanor made her perfect for roles like the grandmother in Wedding Crashers who outs her grandson and talks smack about Eleanor Roosevelt. Dow also amassed a sprawling list of credits on a wide array of TV shows including Seinfeld, New Girl, Cold Case, Hannah Montana, The Golden Girls, Scrubs and Six Feet Under.
Prior to 30 years of on-screen work, Dow was an accomplished dancer, stage actress, comedian, mime and teacher. As a budding performer, she worked with Broadway luminaries like Uta Hagen and Michael Shurtleff and trained with famed mimes Marcel Marceau and Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Dow also worked the famous Borscht Belt circuit — resort theaters in upstate New York — where the likes of Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and many more honed their craft.
Dow’s focus turned to teaching when she moved West, scoring her first job in the drama department at Los Angeles City College. The bulk of her tenure, though, was spent at Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley, teaching alongside her husband, Eugene Dow, in the school’s budding theater department. Dow retired from teaching in 1985; she landed her first film role that same year.