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Loyola at a Glance

Loyola remembers actress, singer and alumna Marie Lillo

July 22, 2011

Loyola University New Orleans College of Music alumna Marie Lillo ’51, an actress and singer, passed away this past February in Los Angeles at the age of 81.

Lillo, who also studied at the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art in London, began her career in New York City at the Metropolitan Opera, but also played an old hunchback psychic nun in the NBC soap opera “Passions.”

Lillo was also a prolific Broadway actress, performing as Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest” and Volumnia in Shakespeare's “Coriolanus.” She also starred in productions of “Norman Is That You?,” “Come Blow Your Horn,” “Oklahoma,” and “Your House Or Mine.” She co-starred with Leslie Nielsen in the Texas tour of “Deathtrap,” and with Cesar Romero in the national tour of “The Max Factor.” Lillo’s Broadway debut was in “42nd Street” at the Majestic Theatre, playing the role of Maggie Jones.

According to the Associated Press, Lillo toured with Milton Berle as a member of a classical quartet who sang while he performed and she won a 1998-99 Drama League Award for the character Emma in Joe DiPietro's off-Broadway hit "Over the River and Through the Woods." She also taught singing and acting in Los Angeles and New York City.

Lillo, a native of Leland, Miss., attended Loyola in the late 40’s and early 50’s, a time that many music alumni, including classmate Anita Bertuccini ’52, refer to as the “golden age of Loyola.” It was so called for the many talented people that graduated from the university during that time, including opera stars Charles Anthony ’51, H’04, and Norman Treigle ’53.

Bertuccini, who is also from Leland, knew Lillo since the second grade and kept in touch with her throughout her life.

“We performed on campus frequently, including a comedy group called Ydemoc, which is comedy spelled backwards. Marie’s contribution (to the university) was that she made everyone aware of the artistic talent coming out of Loyola.”

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