Ilene Graff is a Grammy-nominated recording artist best known to audiences as Marsha Owens, the mom on the long running ABC comedy Mr. Belvedere. She made her professional Broadway debut years earlier on the musical stage in Promises Promises, the Neil Simon, Bacharach/David hit, where she understudied the leading lady and sang backups from the orchestra pit. She performed the role of Fran Kubelik in New York a dozen times before starring in the National Tour.
Ilene went on to play Sandy for two-and-a-half years in the original Broadway production of Grease, but her biggest Broadway triumph was creating the role of Cleo in the Cy Coleman, Michael Stewart musical comedy hit I Love My Wife, directed by Tony Award winner Gene Saks. She can be heard on the show’s Original Cast Album. Other theatre credits include: Charley’s Aunt with Charles Grodin, Cabaret as Sally Bowles, Annie Get Your Gun as Annie Oakley, and Over Here directed by Mr. Belvedere himself, Christopher Hewett. Ilene created the role of Donna in the world premiere of composer/arranger/producer husband Ben Lanzarone’s musical, You and Me, with book and lyrics by Lloyd J. Schwartz, winning the The Valley Theatre League’s ADA Award for her performance. She had the thrill of performing the role of Mama Rose in a Los Angeles revival of Gypsy as well as entertaining Jerry Herman himself at a performance of Jerry’s Girls.
In addition to playing the role of Bob Uecker’s wife on Mr. Belvedere, Ilene starred in two other series, several pilots, and guest-starred on many episodic TV shows, MOWs and mini-series. She is very proud to have co-starred in the ABC/Walt Disney Company film South Pacific, working with Glenn Close and Harry Connick, Jr. Ilene shared the screen with Rodney Dangerfield in the feature film Ladybugs, and co-stars in the feature film Loving Annabelle, which is a favorite on the festival circuit, as well as the Korean-American smash, My Father, and the upcoming The Things We Carry.
Ilene has co-hosted Variety Club Children’s Charities Telethons for many years, and has sung the National Anthem for the Dodgers, Angels, Clippers and Kings. She’s performed her act throughout south Florida as well as performing in concert for The Actors’ Fund in programs saluting Kander and Ebb, Cy Coleman, Harold Arlen and Jule Styne. Ilene recently headlined at New York’s world famous Birdland, as well as at The Crest Theatre in Delray Beach, Florida, The Magic Castle in Hollywood, and Sterling’s and The Canyon Club in Los Angeles. She’s also enjoyed sold-out engagements at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan.
Ilene created and teaches a Vocal Performance Workshop called Making the Song Your Own. She and Ben have done master classes around the country, as well as on Crystal Cruises Emerging Artists Voyages, representing the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards.
Ilene's book, co-written with Michele Gendelman and Donna Rosenstein, “What The Other Mothers Know,” published by HarperCollins, is available from online booksellers everywhere
Ilene is a native New Yorker who graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Drama. She and husband Ben Lanzarone met while working in the Broadway production of Grease, where Ben was playing the piano and conducting. Ben serves as Ilene’s Musical Director, arranger, co-producer and accompanist. Their Grammy-nominated CD, Baby’s Broadway Lullabies is a collection of beautiful theatre songs arranged especially for sleepytime and is available on her website, www.ilenegraff.com. Their daughter Nikka Graff Lanzarone, a Musical Theater graduate of the Boston Conservatory, is a Broadway musical theatre performer.