Ida Engel, one of the oldest working members of the Screen Actors Guild, died Tuesday April 30 of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, L.A. She was 98.
Engel, a formally trained pianist and vocalist, was enamored with becoming an actress much of her life, but only in her senior years did she make such appearances, albeit numerous ones in commercials.
While growing up in downtown Los Angeles she would occasionally hang out at movie location shoots, but she spent much of her life performing with the Chansonettes choral group, singing at synagogues, bar mitzvahs and senior citizen centers. In 1985, she appeared on “The Gong Show,” winning first prize with a rendition of her signature song, “Second Hand Rose.”
She landed a Hollywood agent in her 90s and appeared in a string of commercials, including a set for Holiday Inn in which she plays a laughing grandmother. She also appeared in spots for Church’s Chicken.
She is survived by two daughters, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.