March 3, 1934|
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
April 30, 1972 (age 38)|
Hollywood Hills, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Acute ethanol and barbiturate intoxication|
|Resting place||Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California|
|Spouse(s)||Don Burnett (1959-1970; divorced)|
Scala was brought up in Messina and Mili San Marco in Sicily, the latter on the estate of her grandfather, Natale Scoglio, who was one of the largest citrus growers in Sicily. When Scala was 16, she moved to the United States to live with her aunt Agata in Whitestone, Queens, New York City. After graduating from Bayside High School, she moved to Manhattan to pursue acting. Scala supported herself by working at a travel agency.
During this time, Scala studied acting from Stella Adler, where she met Steve McQueen. The two dated from 1952 to 1954. Scala began to appear on game shows, including Stop the Music, where she was spotted by Maurice Bergman, an executive of Universal International located in New York City.
In 1954, accompanied by her mother, Scala flew to Los Angeles to screen test for the role of Mary Magdalene in The Gallileans. Although she did not get the part, Peter Johnson at Universal Studios was impressed with Scala's screen test. Scala had her first official job in Hollywood when she was given a non-speaking, uncredited part in the movie All That Heaven Allows, starring Rock Hudson. Despite her minor role in the movie, Universal Studios signed her to a contract, dyed her hair dark brown, had her four front teeth capped, and gave her the stage name Gia Scala.
Scala became emotionally distraught following the death of her mother in 1957. In 1958, she became a naturalized American citizen. Scala soon after landed roles in in such films as Tip on a Dead Jockey (1957), The Garment Jungle (1957), The Tunnel of Love (1958), and The Guns of Navarone (1961), starring Gregory Peck and David Niven.
Scala made frequent appearances on American television during the 1960s, appearing in such series as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Convoy, The Islanders, The Rogues, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Twelve O'Clock High, Tarzan, and It Takes a Thief (1969) in the episode "The Artist Is for Framing", her final acting role.
On August 21, 1959, Scala married Don Burnett, an actor turned investment banker. After 10 years of marriage, Burnett left her and moved in with Rock Hudson. Gia and Don divorced on September 1, 1970. Scala had difficulties with alcohol and her career began to wane.
In 2015, author/researcher Sterling Saint James wrote a book about Gia Scala's life titled Gia Scala: The First Gia. Tina Scala provided intimate details about her sister's life.
On the night of April 30, 1972, 38 year-old Scala 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" and was later ruled accidental.
The circumstances surrounding Scala's death have been questioned, with some believing it was a result of either murder or suicide rather than accidental. Her sister believed that she did not intend to take her life nor that her death was accidental. Scala had a prescription for valium and three tablets were missing from the bottle, but valium is a benzodiazepine, not a barbiturate. Also, Scala was discovered nude sprawled across her bed and bruises were found on her body and blood was on her pillow.
Scala is interred next to her mother, Eileen O'Sullivan-Scoglio, in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
In 2008, the Democratic Republic of the Congo released a postage stamp bearing Scala's image.
A biography of Scala, Gia Scala: The First Gia, was published in 2014.
Film and television credits
|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 and Culver City, California|
|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 in London|
|1959||The Angry Hills||Eleftheria||filmed in Greece and London|
|1959||Battle of the Coral Sea||Karen Philips|
|1960||I Aim at the Stars||Elizabeth Beyer||filmed in Munich, Germany|
|1960||Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV)||Lottie Rank||"Mother, May I Go Out to Swim?"|
|1960||The Islanders (TV)||Rhea||"Duel of Strangers"|
|1961||The Guns of Navarone||Anna||filmed in Rhodes Island and London|
|1961||Here's Hollywood (TV)||Herself||Episode 1.154|
|1961||Hong Kong (TV)||Maria Banda||"The Runaway"|
|1961||Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV)||Lisa Talbot||"Deathmate"|
|1962||Il trionfo di Robin Hood||Anna||filmed in Croatia and Italy|
|1964||Operation Delilah||Dalida||filmed in Spain|
|1964||Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV)||Kitty Frazier||"The Sign of Satan"|
|1964||The Rogues (TV)||Simone Carnot||"Take Me to Paris"|
|1965||The Rogues (TV)||Lisa de Monfort||"The Laughing Lady of Luxor"|
|1965||Convoy (TV)||Madeline Duval||"Passage to Liverpool"|
|1965||Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (TV)||Dr. Katya Markova||"Jonah & the Whale"|
|1965||Twelve O'Clock High (TV)||Ilka Zradra||"Rx for a Sick Bird"|
|1965||Run for Your Life (TV)||Marika Takacs||"How to Sell Your Soul for Fun & Profit"|
|1966||Jericho (TV)||Simone DuBray||"Upbeat & Underground"|
|1967||Tarzan (TV)||Martha Tolboth||"The Golden Runaway"|
|1969||The Name of the Game (TV)||Renata Marino||"The Inquiry"|
|1969||It Takes a Thief (TV)||Angel||"The Artist Is for Framing (last appearance)|
- Before 1st April 1974 Liverpool was part of Lancashire
- "Gia Scala: The First Gia".
- "Four Girls in Town Sound Track".
- Crivello, Kirk (1 January 1990). Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of 14 Hollywood Beauties. Berkley. p. 188. ISBN 0-425-11968-8.
- "Gia Scala Is Dead; Film Actress, 38". The New York Times. 2 May 1972. p. 46.