Miss Marie Lillo (1929 - 2011) Actress Marie Lillo, spanning a 60 -year stage, music and television career, took her final bow in the presence of our Lord Tuesday, February 1st 2011. Marie was born in New Jersey to the late Jimmy and Conchetta Lillo of Lillo’s Restaurant in Leland, Mississippi. She lived her formative years in Leland attending Leland public schools and graduated college from Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana. Her professional career was launched in New York City singing Opera at the MET. Miss Lillo has appeared in opera, musical comedies, nightclubs, television and films. She made her debut in the legit theatre at the famed Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Having studied at the ROYAL ACADEMY OF DRAMATIC ART in London, England, she has performed in a variety of roles from Lady Bracknell in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST to Volumnia in Shakespeare’s CORIOLANUS. A favorite in Las Vegas, Miss Lillo starred in NORMAN IS THAT YOU?, COME BLOW YOUR HORN, OKLAHOMA, and YOUR HOUSE OR MINE. She toured internationally off and on for years performing comedy and singing routines with MILTON BERLE, co-starred in the Texas tour of DEATHTRAP with LESLIE NIELSEN, with CESAR ROMERO in the national tour of THE MAX FACTOR and made her Broadway debut at the Majestic Theatre as “Maggie Jones” in DAVID MERRICKS’ 42ND STREET. On the East Coast, Miss Lillo starred in most of the top theatres in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Marie Lillo won a DRAMALEAGUE AWARD for OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE in the 1998-1999 Season for her creation of “Emma” in Joe Di Pietro’s OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS. Later she created another one of Joe DiPietro’s fabulous characters, “Mabel”, in BABES IN ARMS at the GOODSPEED OPERA COMPANY in Connecticut. She was once again thrilled and honored to create the wonderfully enigmatic role of “Rose” in the LAST ROMANCE at the NEW THEATRE in Kansas City, Kansas. Her first love is the theatre but she confesses that she had a marvelous time portraying the old hunchback psychic nun in NBC’S “PASSIONS.” Miss Lillo also taught singing and comedy techniques to many Broadway stars and aspiring students at her studios in New York City and Los Angeles. She continued to do so up until her death. Marie profoundly touched the lives of many, including students, friends, family and Les Girls. She particularly treated all of her nieces and nephews and their respective families as if they were her own children. The love and inspiration she gave to those family members and many others was boundless. As a teacher, she taught students through her craft; and as a remarkable woman, she taught others by her example. Marie was preceded in death by her parents, Jimmy and Conchetta Lillo, brother, John “Johnny” Lillo, nephews James “Jimmy” Lillo and John Ronald “Ronnie” Lillo. Survivors include sister-in-law, Josephine Lillo, nephews, Charles Lillo, children (Dustin and Sunshine) Steve (Lisa) Lillo, children (Michael and Selena) Paul Lillo, nieces, Debbie (Wesley) Keen, children (Lindsey and Lauren), Connie (Gary) Thieman, Denise (Ron) Geltz, children (Sarah and Nicholas). Services will be held at St. James Catholic Church in Leland, Mississippi: Rosary on Feb. 11th at 7:00 p.m. with a visitation from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and a Funeral Mass on Feb. 12th at 11:00 a.m.. On March 12, 2011, there will be a Memorial Service at 11:00 a.m. at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills, CA. In lieu of flowers, Marie has asked for Mass Cards or donations to the church of her younger years (and the site of her funeral): St. James Catholic Church, 312 E. Third St., Leland, MS 38756.

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  1. Our lives were blessed and enriched by your friendship. Rest in Peace. From Mildred and Joseph Bossetta and with condolences from the entire Bossetta family. Posted on our behalf by

  2. I know the heavenly choir will sing much sweeter now that Marie is there to help them produce their tones correctly. And when it is right, she’ll laugh heartily and say “That was GORgeous. You really got it that time!” The best teacher and best friend I ever had – my one and only “Mississippi Mama,” Marie.

  3. I love and miss you, Marie (Aunt Rea). I’m so glad you lived in CA the last 7 years. I dreamed of living close to you one day. Your West Coast family and friends loved it. Our family times, my voice lessons, the theatre, hanging out etc. are precious memories. You have been the essence of such joy and encouragement in mine & Gary’s life. Your wisdom energized me to learn more, your stability gave me strength to be all I can be, your excitement to help students and people advance showed me an unconditional love. You are an amazing teacher/mentor. Thank you for valuing the‘gift of life’, participating in the world around you creatively with fervor, and inspiring me and so many others… Plus, we are blessed to have your college friends, the Les Girls, like family continue to show us the amazing art of friendship. Y’all broke the mold! I’m so glad I’ll see you again in Heaven. I thank God for the wonderful Aunt Marie He gave me! You said to just think of you off doing a show. How is “Dial H for Heaven” going?

  4. I did not know Marie, but I know her neice, Denise. It was so apparent that Marie was deeply cherished and loved by her family. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family. I know she will always be watching over you as you did her.

  5. Marie changed my life. She was the best vocal coach I ever had. In addition she was a mentor and friend. She was the most caring, insightful, and wonderful person. She will be greatly missed and always remembered.

  6. I not only had the delight of Marie’s dear friendship, but I had the honor of working with Marie on three seperate occassions. Marie was a joyous force of nature, on stage and off. She originated 3 roles for me, and she was brilliant in each one. Perhaps my most cherished theatrical memory of Marie is when she starred in my version of “Babes in Arms” at Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut. Marie was hilarious as Mabel, “the world’s oldest living chorus girl,” and when she sang “The Lady Is A Tramp” she offered a veritible Master Class in how to bring the house down nightly. The audience loved her. The cast and crew loved her. And I loved her. She was a loving friend, a tremendous talent, and a total pro. She will be sorely missed. Joe DiPietro

  7. When I think of you, Marie I think of a powerhouse. You are a woman of deep passion, strength and the tenacity to do whatever you set your mind to. You have always ispired me. I am sure your great humor and laughter will keep everyone on their toes wherever you are. You are sorely missed here. A new star in the sky is now shining brightly for all to see. Love you, Marie. xoSharon

  8. I’ll never find the words to express how much I love and miss you. There is a big empty place in my life that you filled with so much happiness, laughter, and love. You were always there for me with advice and guidance whenever I needed you and no matter how bad things were you could always make me laugh.Now that’s real talent.

  9. I had the honor of performing with Marie in Over the River and Through the Woods. I loved her dearly, and we remained friends in the years after. I’d always visit her when I was in LA, we’d laugh, and she’d play with my children, who called her “the Grandmother Marie.” You are missed you wonderful lady!!!

  10. Denise, Ron, Sarah, Nicholas Geltz and the entire Lillo Family, Please accept our heartfelt sympathy on the passing of your dear Aunt Marie. We are deeply saddened by your loss. God has broken your hearts but sheltered your Aunt Marie from her pain.

  11. Our sincere sympathy go out to the friends and family of Marie. What a remarkable and blessed life she lived. Not knowing Marie,, only knowing a few of her family, she sounds like a truly remarkable person,, one that will be missed but, certainly made her mark here on earth. She is now rejoicing and finding her place in heaven,, I’m sure doing what she loves most. And to our sweet friends Connie and Gary, We love you, and will be praying for Gods comfort in this time. Your faith is strong, so I know that you will be saddened for your temporary loss but also rejoicing in her everlasting joy being with our Lord Jesus Christ. Isn’t it great to be a believer, knowing God is always there for us. In prayer, Steve and Kathy Allen

  12. I met Marie when I was a child. She was close friends and worked on stage with my parents Eric Mason and Sharon Michaels. She had a great throaty laugh, and was patient while teaching singing or helping us rehearse a play. I believe Marie was a modern and independant woman way before it was the norm. Her southern hospitality charmed all those around her and she had a long and prosperous career in a tough business. She will be missed

  13. Dearest LILLO family…I know that Marie’s strength, talent, passion and SPIRIT will live on in all of you and that each time we hear SARAH sing, we will definitely hear Marie cheering her on from Heaven!! You are all in my thoughts and prayers at this—the saddest of times! Love, Donna

  14. What a remarkable woman who will be missed greatly! We are blessed to know her! Marie was a blessing to my children (Robert and Faith) in their younger years when she gave them private voice lessons. Robert and Faith are grown now, but they have fond memories of Marie and cherish the encouragement she gave them. We still marvel at her talent and the tremendous contributions she gave to the entertainment industry, but we will remember her most for her sweet and loving spirit. We are confident that God has welcomed her to her heavenly home and he greeted Marie by saying, “Well done, faithful and loving servant!” God bless the Lillio family and friends. Our prayers are with you. Love, Annette, Mike, Faith Stagge and Robert and Jessica Stagge

  15. My brother told me about Marie’s death. I remember her singing the Ave Maria at midnight Mass. It was always very touching. I have stated this to whomever I am with when I hear the song. Looks like she had a very successful career – Leland girl makes good. Our condolences.

  16. I met Aunt Marie through her niece, Connie, after one of her theatre performances in Los Angeles. What a dear professional. I was able to share a meal with her, surrounded by her family…lovely. As we said our good-byes, she asked me if she’d see me again and I said yes. Now I’ll have to wait for heaven! I’m honored to have seen her craft here on earth. To her dear family, my condolences and may her spirit of joy and determination come to your remembrance in difficult times to encourage you to carry on.

  17. I didn’t know Marie personally but I knew her parents Jimmy and Conchetta Lillo and her extended family members as an employee of their restaurant in Leland while I was a high school student. They spoke highly of her and was so excited when she would appear on TV. She was a beacon in her family’s eye. My condolences to her entire family and friends who loved her so much.

  18. To the family of Marie Lillo: I pray the Lord will wrap His loving arms around you, and give you the peace and comfort only He can give. Sincerely, Judy Garren-Smith

  19. In Loving Memory to Aunt Rea! “You Touched Me” Even before I could remember, I know you were there. A smile on your face, with many experiences to share; You’d walked in the door, all anxious to hear I was right in the mixed, to take part in the cheer. You always had gifts, for all your family You taught us respect, making ours, your reality I remember some things, you said to advise, “Don’t hate back”, was your words to be wise. “Don’t worry what people think”, was another you taught If they talked about you, their life was boring You thought. “Don’t smile before Christmas”, to earn their respect, A smile comes to mine, as we recollect. This and so much more, stay with me today, Your glass is half full, a positive attitude, Always! Unconditional is your motive, in all that You do, God’s blessing to us all, He gave us, You! You taught us honor, while loving your Mom and Dad Now knowing them as we do, the world would be glad. Placing them on a pedestal, gave us something to strive for, And the reflections of them, You give us so much more. The reflections of you all, together are too many, I’m sure there’re proud, as you continue their legacy. You make us feel great, in your eyes we are special, I speak for many, it is You that is Our Jewel ! You love everyone the same, Your selfless giving is clear, Every one smiles when you are near. We enjoy good times, we shared some sad, But through it all, we make the best with what we had. No matter the time, and any given situation, A joke is in the wing, to turn trials to jubilation. You always have a good one, at just the right time. And if that did not work, You had other ways to shine. A tune would do the thick, most love a good song, Before they knew it, everyone’s singing along. Time with you seems to flies, as we are having fun, Just knowing You, make us all, a better person. So always remember, our love for You is eternal, We will cherish it, share it, and teach our young the morals Live to the fullest, embrace every moment, We’re here for a short time, don’t waste one second. By living it, you taught it, we’ll all use to refer, Peace and happiness comes from enjoying what life has to offer. One last thing to remember, as time moves behind You’ll always be in our hearts, till the end of time! “You Touched Me” Charles Lillo

  20. Marie I will miss you dearly! You were the most amazing teacher and friend. You were such a force of life! A genuine beautiful woman. My condolences to your family! Kellie x

  21. March 12, 2011. Dear Connie and Denise, I am SO PRESENT there with you today CELEBRATING MARIE, SO PRESENT. I am wearing a turtleneck Marie gave me! All My Love, Sarah

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