'Wedding Singer's' rapping granny, Ellen Albertini Dow, dead at 101

Story highlights

  • Ellen Albertini Dow became an actor after a long career in dance, mime and teaching
  • L.A. Pierce College theater department mourns loss of "matriarch of its family"
  • She was probably best known as the rapping granny in "The Wedding Singer"

(CNN)Her name was Ellen Albertini Dow. You probably knew her as the rapping granny from 1998's "The Wedding Singer."

She died Monday at 101, according to representative Juliet Green, of Juliet Green Management.
"I said a hip hop, Hippie to the hippie. The hip, hip a hop, and you don't stop, rock it," Dow jauntily sang in the movie's version of the hip-hop classic "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang.
    But this woman was so much more than a gag in an Adam Sandler movie.
    She appeared in more than two dozen films and nearly 40 television shows, among "The Golden Girls," "Seinfeld," "Newhart," "Scrubs" and "Six Feet Under." She appeared on Broadway three times.
    Dow as Rosie in "The Wedding Singer."
    Dow began studying dance at the age of 5, according to her Internet Movie Database biography.
    She worked with the likes of dancer Martha Graham and French mimes Marcel Marceu and Jaques Lecoq, according to her resume on her own website. She ran a mime troupe for a while, and earned a master's degree in theater from Cornell University.
    She taught drama at two Los Angeles area colleges for nearly three decades. The theater at the second of those schools, Pierce College, was named after her and her late husband, Eugene Dow -- who founded the department.
    In a Facebook posting, the school's theater department mourned the loss of what it called "the matriarch of its family."

    Today the LAPC Theatre Department lost the matriarch of its family. It is with great sadness that we report the news...

    Posted by LAPC Theatre on Monday, May 4, 2015
    "A woman maybe known for a certain movie but she surely leaves behind a greater legacy than that," Facebook user Stephanie Alvena posted to the department's Facebook page.
    In her late-career movie roles, Dow was best known for playing sweet-looking elderly women with unexpected edges. In addition to playing Rosie the rapping grandmother in "The Wedding Singer," Dow played raunchy grandma Mary Cleary in "Wedding Crashers."
    "Everyone is talking about her role in The Wedding Singer, I'm over here like: NAH, Wedding CRASHERS for the win!" Facebook user Ashley Gilyard wrote on Pierce's Facebook page. "Rest in peace, Ellen."