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Lillian Mattis-Russin

MATTIS-RUSSIN , Lillian
Dec. 6, 1922-Feb. 2, 2007
Lillian Mattis-Russin, renowned lyricist and special material writer, passed away Friday evening at the age of 84. Beloved and devoted mother and best friend to her son, Ronald Jason Palmieri, cherished grandmother to Jeffrey and Kim Tinsley, Jennifer and Jon Kappelman, and Jason Tinsley, and proud great-grandmother to Erika Renee, Ava Simone, Ryan Paul and Olivia Lefleur, she is also survived by her dear brother Jack Mattis, loving sister-in-law , Mildred Mattis and caring daughter-in-law, Frances Tinsley. Lillian's eldest son, Steven Randolph Tinsley, predeceased her in 1999, as did her brother Henry Matis in 1993, as did her last husband, famed jazz great, Babe Russin in 1984. Lil is also survived by multiple nieces and nephews and a large extended family, many of whom knew her as their “California Mom.”
Lillian was born in New York and was the youngest child of Rose and Harry Matis. Upon her separation from her second husband in 1959, she moved to Los Angeles. Shortly thereafter, she began her long and multi-faceted career in the music industry, beginning to write special material lyrics for various artists. In the early 1960's she began her association with Jerry Lewis, writing lyrics to the tunes of Louis Yule Brown for all of his films, including great standard “We've Got A World That Swings” featured in The Nutty Professor. For the next 40 years, she served as the special material writer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual telethon, writing lyrics for such artists as Sammy Davis, Jr., and Frank Sinatra. In the 1960's, Lil also teamed with Academy Award winner Neal Hefti to write the lyrics for the films “Sex And The Single Girl” and “How To Murder Your Wife.” Songs from those films were recorded by multiple legends including Peggy Lee and Jack Jones. In addition, Lil and her brother Jack wrote and produced various shows in Las Vegas, which are remembered to this day.
Her unbridled love for her family, music, friends and life made her a larger than life figure of proportions not often seen today. Her “Auntie Mame” flair and adventurous spirit touched so many and so deeply that it will be difficult to imagine our lives without her.
Services will be held on Sunday, February 11, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. at Eden Park Memorial, Eternal Light Chapel, 11500 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills, CA, (818) 361-7161. Celebration of Life to immediately follow at Mr. Palmieri's residence in the Hollywood Hills.
In lieu of flowers, the family has respectfully requested that donations be made in Lillian's memory to Temple Kol Ami, 1200 North La Brea Ave., West Hollywood, CA, 90038. (323) 606-0997.

Published in the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 6, 2007
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