Gia Scala (3 March 1934 – 30 April 1972) was an actress and model who was born in Liverpool, brought up in Sicily, and later moved to New York, where she became a naturalised United States citizen. Her father was Sicilian and her mother was Irish.
Gia Scala in Goodyear Theatre
|Born||Josephine Grace Johanna Scoglio
3 March 1934
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
|Died||30 April 1972
Hollywood Hills, California, US
|Cause of death||Accidental|
|Resting place||Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California|
|Spouse(s)||Don Burnett (1959–1970; divorced)|
She was born Josephine Grace Johanna Scoglio in Liverpool, Lancashire, to a Sicilian father, Pietro Scoglio, and an Irish mother, Eileen O'Sullivan. She had one sister, Tina Scala, also an actress. Gia was brought up in Messina, and Mili San Marco, Sicily, the latter was upon her grandfather—Natale Scoglio's estate. He was the largest agriculturist of citrus, mainly lemons known as the "Ballerina Brand". It was the custom of upper social and economic class families to send their young adult children to live abroad to enculturate and learn other languages. When she was 16 years old, Gia began to reside with her aunt Agata in Whitestone, Queens, Long Island, New York. She had always wanted to be an actress; however, her very religious aunt disapproved of her aspirations. After she graduated from Bayside High School in Queens, Gia moved to Manhattan to pursue acting. To support herself, she found employment in a travel agency, where she met a person who had connections with a television producer. During this time, she took drama classes from Stella Adler, and that was when she met Steve McQueen; they dated from 1952 to 1954. She appeared on game shows, in particular Stop the Music, where she was spotted by Maurice Bergman, an executive of Universal International located in New York.
In 1954, accompanied by her mother, Scala flew to Hollywood to screen test for the role of Mary Magdalene for the up-coming film The Gallileans. She did not get the part, but it did not matter because the film was scrapped. Nevertheless, Peter Johnson at Universal Studios was impressed with Scala's close-ups in the screen test. She was given a nonspeaking, uncredited part in the movie All That Heaven Allows that starred Rock Hudson. Afterward, Universal Studios signed her to a contract. The studio dyed her hair dark brown, had her four front teeth capped, and changed her name to Gia Scala.
Scala's star was rising when in 1957, her mother died. Emotionally distraught, she began to become unstable. In 1958, she was filming The Two Headed Spy in London. Her father and she were sharing an apartment; late one night they had words, Gia left in a huff, got into a taxi, and went to the Waterloo Bridge. It looked as if she were going to jump off the bridge; the taxi driver called the police, and she was taken to the police station. In the morning, her father came to take her home. Later that year, she became an American citizen. She landed roles in Tip on a Dead Jockey (1957), The Garment Jungle (1957), and The Tunnel of Love (1958), which featured Richard Widmark and Doris Day. Her performance as a labour organiser in The Garment Jungle was critically acclaimed.
Scala made frequent appearances on American television shows during the 1960s. Gia co-starred with William Shatner in a 1960 Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode entitled "Mother, May I Go Out to Swim?", another called "Deathmate", and with Christopher Lee in a 1964 Alfred Hitchcock Hour segment entitled "The Sign of Satan". She also guest-starred in other series, Convoy, The Islanders, The Rogues, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Twelve O'Clock High episode "Rx for a Sick Bird" (1965), the NBC TV series Tarzan (1967), and It Takes a Thief (1969) in the episode "The Artist Is for Framing", which proved to be her final acting role.
Scala married actor turned investment banker Don Burnett on 21 August 1959. She started drinking heavily after Burnett left her and moved in with Rock Hudson. They divorced on 1 September 1970. Her career began to deteriorate as a result of depression that led to excessive drinking.
"Cha Cha for Gia"Edit
Later years and deathEdit
Having British citizenship due to her birth, Gia went to London to film The Two Headed Spy. In late summer of 1958, she returned to the US, and her father moved to Taormina, Sicily, where he retired from the import/export business.
On the night of 30 April 1972, Gia was found dead in her Hollywood Hills home. Los Angeles County Coroner Thomas Noguchi reported her cause of death was from an "acute ethanol and barbiturate intoxication." She had a prescription for valium; three tablets were missing from the bottle, but valium is not a barbiturate; it is a benzodiazepine. Also, she was discovered nude sprawled across her bed; bruises were on her body and blood was on her pillow; the bedroom seemed to be staged with wine bottles and dirty wine glasses strewn about. Gia was a very organized and neat person. For those reasons, her sister Tina Scala never believed that Gia intended to take her life, nor that her death was accidental. She was 38 years old. Scala's death was later ruled accidental. She is interred next to her mother, Eileen O'Sullivan-Scoglio, in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
Postal stamp: Republic of the CongoEdit
In 2008, the Democratic Republic of the Congo put Gia Scala's image on a postage stamp.
Gia Scala: The First Gia Edit
Film and television creditsEdit
|1954||Stop the Music||Game show contestant, later became Bert Parks assistant|
|1955||All That Heaven Allows||Marguerita||Uncredited|
|1956||Never Say Goodbye||Minnie||Uncredited|
|1956||The Price of Fear||Nina Ferranti||Gia Scala|
|1957||TV- Goodyear Theatre||Giovanna|
|1957||Four Girls in Town||Vicki Dauray|
|1957||The Big Boodle||Anita Ferrer||Filmed in Cuba|
|1957||Don't Go Near the Water||Melora Alba||MGM|
|1957||The Garment Jungle||Theresa Renata|
|1957||Tip on a Dead Jockey||Paquita Heldon||Filmed in Spain & Culver City, Calif.|
|1958||Ride a Crooked Trail||Tessa Milotte||Filmed in Los Angeles|
|1958||The Tunnel of Love||Estelle Novick||MGM|
|1958||The Two-Headed Spy||Lili Geyr||Filmed I London|
|1959||The Angry Hills||Eleftheria||Filmed in Greece & London|
|1959||Battle of the Coral Sea||Karen Philips|
|1960||I Aim at the Stars||Elizabeth Beyer||Filmed in Munich, Germany|
|1960||TV- Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Lottie Rank||Mother, May I Go Out to Swim?|
|1960||TV- The Islanders||Rhea||Duel of Strangers|
|1961||The Guns of Navarone||Anna||Filmed at Rhodes Island & London|
|1961||TV – Here's Hollywood||Herself||Episode 1.154|
|1961||TV Hong Kong||Maria Banda||The Runaway|
|1961||TV Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Lisa Talbot||Deathmate|
|1962||Il trionfo di Robin Hood||Anna||Filmed in Croatia & Italy|
|1964||Operation Delilah||Dalida||Filmed in Spain|
|1964||TV -Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Kitty Frazier||The Sign of Satan|
|1964||TV –The Rogues||Simone Carnot||Take Me to Paris|
|1965||TV – The Rogues||Lisa de Monfort||The Laughing Lady of Luxor|
|1965||TV- Convoy||Madeline Duval||Passage to Liverpool|
|1965||TV- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea||Dr. Katya Markova||Jonah & the Whale|
|1965||TV -Twelve O'Clock High||Ilka Zradra||Rx for a Sick Bird|
|1965||TV – Run for Your Life||Marika Takacs||How to Sell Your Soul for Fun & Profit|
|1966||TV – Jericho||Simone DuBray||Upbeat & Underground|
|1967||TV – Tarzan||Martha Tolboth||The Golden Runaway|
|1969||TV – The Name of the Game||Renata Marino||The Inquiry|
|1969||TV – It Takes a Thief||Angel||The Artist Is for Framing, (Last appearance)|
- "Gia Scala: The First Gia".
- Crivello, Kirk (1 January 1990). Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of 14 Hollywood Beauties. Berkley. p. 188. ISBN 0-425-11968-8.
- Crivello, Kirk (1 January 1990). Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of 14 Hollywood Beauties. Berkley. pp. 187–188. ISBN 0-425-11968-8.
- "Four Girls in Town Sound Track".
- "Gia Scala Is Dead; Film Actress, 38". The New York Times. 2 May 1972. p. 46.
- "The Private Life and Times of Gia Scala". glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com. Retrieved 31 December 2011.