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Sheila Mathews Allen

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Sheila Mathews Allen Obituary
February 1929 - November 2013 Actress, Singer, Producer, Philanthropist Sheila Mathews Allen, actress and widow of film and television producer Irwin Allen ("The Poseidon Adventure", "The Towering Inferno", "Lost in Space", etc.) passed away at her home in Malibu, California after braving a long battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis. She was 84. The daughter of Christopher J. Mathews and Elizabeth McCluskey Mathews, Sheila Marie Mathews was born and raised in New York City. As a small child, she started singing arias she heard on the radio. Her mother recognized her gift and sought teachers that would develop her talent. She starred in several productions with the Children's Opera Company and on radio, before the age of ten, she performed solos with the NBC Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham conducting. Because her father was employed by RCA, little Sheila was one of the first people seen on TV as she demonstrated the new technology at the 1939 World's Fair. Sheila attended Professional Children's School allowing her to travel and perform. She graduated in 1946. During the 1940s and 1950s, she appeared in both the chorus and in featured roles in dozens of musicals (both on Broadway and in touring companies) including Oh, Captain! (with Tony Randall) and Destry Rides Again (with Andy Griffith). In 1960 she met and fell in love with producer Irwin Allen. From that time on, Sheila became a familiar face in many of her future husband's popular films and television shows. To fans of "Lost in Space" (1965-1968) she made a boisterous Brynhilda in "The Space Vikings." In "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972) she played Jan Arvan, the ship's plucky Nurse. They married in 1974. Sheila also played the recurring role of Fanny in "The Waltons". But it was after her husband's death in 1991 that Sheila made what many believe to be her most lasting contribution to her late husband's legacy. As the president of Irwin Allen Productions, Sheila spent the last two decades actively engaged in developing everything from documentaries to remakes and sequels of Irwin Allen intellectual properties like "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", "The Time Tunnel", "Land of the Giants" and "Lost in Space." A life long fan, Sheila was a prominent supporter of the Los Angeles Opera, the Young Musician's Foundation, and the American Film Institute. She also cared deeply about children in need. SHARE and United Friends of the Children were among her favorite charities. Sheila was one of the most generous people her friends and family knew. "If it was for a good cause, Sheila would buy a table." During these years after Irwin's death she maintained close relationships with dear friends and family as she traveled the world and entertained in her Malibu home. She was great company on a trip and a gracious hostess wherever she entertained. Sheila Allen is survived by her brother, Capt. C. J. "Buddy" Mathews (USN), his family in San Diego, SGT Major T. Kevin Mathews' family in Virginia, the Michael and Henry Allen families and the Joan Ludensky family of Massachusetts, the Fidencio Miranda family in Los Angeles and countless friends, here and throughout the world. The Mathews and Allen families are eternally grateful to Tomasa for her loving care of our dear Aunt Sheila and Uncle Irwin. We will all miss Sheila's charm, wit and laughter. She was so much fun to be around. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Jude's Children's Hospital @www.stjude.org
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 8, 2013
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