Lynne Marta, Actress in ‘Joe Kidd,’ ‘Footloose’ and ‘Love, American Style,’ Dies at 78

Lynne Marta, the actress who appeared in films including Joe Kidd and Footloose, as a regular on Love, American Style and as a guest star on dozens of other TV shows, has died. She was 78.

Marta died Thursday in her Los Angeles home after a battle with cancer, her friend Chris Saint-Hilaire told The Hollywood Reporter.

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The New Jersey native also showed up on episodes of such Aaron Spelling-produced series as The Mod Squad, The Rookies, Starsky & Hutch, Charlie’s Angels, Vega$ and Matt Houston and on Quinn Martin productions like The F.B.I., Dan August, Cannon, The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones, The Manhunter and Caribe.

As the companion of a wealthy landowner (Robert Duvall), Marta caught the eye of a bounty hunter (Clint Eastwood) in John Sturges’ Joe Kidd (1972), and she portrayed Lulu Warnicker, the aunt of Kevin Bacon’s Ren, in the Herbert Ross-directed Footloose (1984).

The younger of two daughters, Marta was born on Oct. 30, 1945, in Somerville, New Jersey. Her father, George, was commissioner of air and water pollution for the State of New Jersey.

She started her career on the syndicated teen dance program The Lloyd Thaxton Show, landed on episodes of Gidget and The Monkees in 1966 and worked on 18 episodes of the first season (1969-70) of the ABC anthology series Love, American Style.

Marta starred on a 1973 pilot for an ABC sci-fi series, Genesis II, that was written by Gene Roddenberry, but the show was not picked up.

Her TV résumé also included Then Came Bronson, Gunsmoke, Kojak, Medical Center, Marcus Welby, M.D., The Rockford Files, Knight Rider, Designing Women and Law & Order and work on the soap operas Passions, The Young and the Restless and Days of Our Lives.

And she appeared in the films Red Sky at Morning (1971), Help Me … I’m Possessed (1974), Blood Beach (1980) and Three Men and a Little Lady (1990).

Marta had what People in 1983 described as an “open relationship with Starsky & Hutch star David Soul while he was married to actress Karen Carlson. “All through the Starsky & Hutch years, David and Lynne lived together but spent time with other people,” the magazine noted.

THE AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS, from left: Lynne Marta, David Soul, 1978
Lynne Marta with David Soul at The American Music Awards in 1978

She appeared with him in 1977 on his David Soul and Friends TV special.

Survivors include her sister, MJ, and her cat, Mr. Peaches.

In July 1989, Marta was in her apartment a few feet down the hall from where young actress Rebecca Schaeffer was fatally shot by obsessed fan Robert John Bardo.

“The door shook, the wall shook,” she said in testimony reported by the Los Angeles Times. “The cat went up into the air. I fell to my knees and crawled into the bedroom. Then, I heard Rebecca’s first scream.

“She was still screaming while I was talking to 911,” she continued. “By the time I got to the door, she was wailing. I opened the small hatch in my door. There was a smell I’ll never forget: the smell of gunfire. It was quiet except for light moaning.”

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