Actress, cabaret performer was therapist for AIDS patients

Marilynn Lovell Matz, an actress on television in the 1950s and 1960s who later became a therapist and AIDS activist, died April 13 in Los Angeles after a 30-year battle with multiple sclerosis. She was 81.

She appeared on “The Liberace Show” and then “The Danny Kaye Show” and later guested on “Route 66,” “The Naked City” and “The Munsters.” In 1995 Lovell toured with Mary Martin in “Hello, Dolly” and appeared the next year in an NBC documentary following the European and Asian tour.

In the early 1970s she wrote music for or performed on the soundtrack for several horror films, including “The Return of Count Yorga,” “Terror House” and “Scream Blacula Scream.”

During this period, however, she felt constricted by show business and, seeking to be of service, Lovell went back to school to become a therapist. Beginning in the 1980s she served a growing number of gay patients dealing with AIDS-related issues.

Lovell and composer-arranger Peter Matz, whom she married in 1981, did private fundraising evenings for AIDS Project L.A., raising hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While continuing her practice, she returned to the screen for a small role in Rob Reiner’s feature film “The Ghosts of Mississippi” in 1996, sang regularly at the Cinegrill and Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles and did work onstage.

Peter Matz died in 2002. Lovell Matz’s survivors include two stepsons and her grandchildren.

A celebration of her life and career is being planned for early June. Donations may be made to AIDS Project Los Angeles or the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.

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