Ellen Albertini Dow
When audiences saw the trailer for the romantic comedy film "The Wedding Singer" (1998), many took note of the petite elderly woman performing "Rapper's Delight" and asked "Who is she?" The answer is Ellen Albertini Dow, a veteran of NYC's Yiddish theater and a former drama teacher in L. A. Although coy about her age, Dow has been playing feisty old women since she resumed her acting career in the mid-1980s with a chilling turn as a mass murderer on an episode of "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1985). Since then, she played small roles in numerous TV shows (e.g., "Family Matters," "The Golden Girls," "Murphy Brown") and a handful of films ("Tough Guys" 1986; "Sister Act" 1992). Dow offered a memorable guest turn on a 1995 episode of "Seinfeld" as J Peterman's elderly mother. But it was her performance as a woman celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary who surprises her guests with a hip-hop number that made people take notice. Director Frank Coraci had cast Dow primarily on the strength of her rendition of the 1959 classic "Til There Was You" which she also performed in the film. Audiences were primed for her appearance as a cocaine-snorting oldster in the disco-flavored "54" (also 1998).