Born on a farm in Howard County, Iowa, one of five siblings, Wendel spent her childhood traveling with her musical parents and dancing with her sisters in and around the Midwest in club and concert hall venues, including the Grand Ole Opry. She eventually made her way to New York where she enjoyed success in both Broadway and off-Broadway productions. A national touring company of Annie took her to Los Angeles, where she made a successful transition into film and television. Her television credits include guest roles on many hit shows, such as Seinfeld, Love & War, Murphy Brown, Murder, She Wrote, and Empty Nest. She appeared in And the Band Played On and Far from Home. Most recently, she played a recurring role as Gina, one of the assembly line workers at the aviation factory on The George Lopez Show.
Her musical theater credits include Wonderful Town, Cole Porter Revisited, Little Mary Sunshine and Gigi.
Elmarie Wendel is the mother of Jennifer "J.C." Wendel, who is also an actress.
Elmarie Wendel's death was announced on her daughter J.C.'s on July 21, 2018. No cause or place of death was given.