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|Born||Josefina Grazia Scoglio
3 March 1934
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
|Died||30 April 1972
at home Hollywood, California, USA
Cause of death
|Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California|
|Spouse(s)||Don Burnett (1959-1970; divorced)|
Scala lived in Messina, Sicily, and moved to the United States at age fourteen where she studied and worked in New York City. She graduated from Bayside High School in Queens, New York. For a time she was undecided on what to do next. She worked in New York as a filing clerk for an insurance company and as a reservation clerk for Scandinavian Airlines.
Scala studied acting at night and made appearances on some radio shows and television quiz shows. At the end of 1954 an agent had her tested for the role of Mary Magdalene in a film which was to be made called The Gallileans. She did not get the part but was signed to contracts by both Universal Studios and Columbia Pictures in Hollywood. Using the stage name "Gia Scala," she made her film debut in 1955 in All That Heaven Allows with Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson.
However, personal problems plagued her. In 1958, she attempted suicide. Later that same year, she became an American citizen. She landed roles in Tip on a Dead Jockey (1957), The Garment Jungle also in 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.
She made frequent appearances on American television shows during the 1960s. Scala 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), Tarzan (NBC series) (1967) and It Takes a Thief (1969) in the episode "The Artist Is for Framing.", which proved to be her final acting role.
Scala's career began to deteriorate as a result of alcoholism and she was released from her contracts with Universal Studios and Columbia Pictures. One of her boyfriends was actor Steve McQueen, the two dated from 1952 to 1954. Scala would marry actor/stockbroker Don Burnett on 21 August 1959. The marriage would end in divorce on 1 September 1970.
Later years and death
Having British citizenship due to her birth, Scala moved to Britain to work in films, but her troubles only escalated. Suffering from severe emotional problems, aggravated by alcohol, she made another unsuccessful suicide attempt before returning to Hollywood.
On the night of 30 April 1972, Scala was found dead in her Hollywood Hills home at 7944 Woodrow Wilson Drive from an overdose of drugs and alcohol. She was 38 years old. Scala's death was later ruled accidental. She is interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City.
- The Price of Fear (1956)
- Four Girls in Town (1957)
- The Big Boodle (1957)
- The Garment Jungle (1957)
- Tip on a Dead Jockey (1957)
- Don't Go Near the Water (1957)
- Ride a Crooked Trail (1958)
- The Two-Headed Spy (1958)
- The Tunnel of Love (1958)
- The Angry Hills (1959)
- Battle of the Coral Sea (1959)
- Wernher von Braun (1960)
- The Guns of Navarone (1961)
- Operation Delilah (1967)
- Crivello, Kirk (1990-01-01). Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of 14 Hollywood Beauties. Berkley. p. 180. ISBN 0-425-11968-8.
- Crivello, Kirk (1990-01-01). Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of 14 Hollywood Beauties. Berkley. p. 188. ISBN 0-425-11968-8.
- Crivello, Kirk (1990-01-01). Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of 14 Hollywood Beauties. Berkley. pp. 187–188. ISBN 0-425-11968-8.
- "Gia Scala Is Dead; Film Actress, 38". The New York Times. 1972-05-02. p. 46.
- "The Private Life and Times of Gia Scala". glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com. Retrieved 31 December 2011.