December 14, 1929 ~ February 1, 2011
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 Lilloâ€™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 Shakespeareâ€™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 â€œMaggie Jonesâ€ in DAVID MERRICKSâ€™ 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 â€œEmmaâ€ in Joe Di Pietroâ€™s OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS. Later she created another one of Joe DiPietroâ€™s fabulous characters, â€œMabelâ€, 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 â€œRoseâ€ 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 NBCâ€™S â€œPASSIONS.â€
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 â€œJohnnyâ€ Lillo, nephews James â€œJimmyâ€ Lillo and John Ronald â€œRonnieâ€ 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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