Gia Scala

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Gia Scala
Gia Scala Goodyear Theatre.jpg
Gia Scala
Born Josephine Grace Scoglio
(1934-03-03)3 March 1934
Liverpool, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Died 30 April 1972(1972-04-30) (aged 38)
at home Hollywood, California, USA
Cause of death
Resting place
Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California
Occupation Actress, model
Years active 1955—1969
Spouse(s) Don Burnett (1959-1970; divorced)

Gia Scala (3 March 1934 – 30 April 1972) was an Anglo-American actress and model of Italian and Irish descent.

Early life[edit]

She was born Josephine Grace 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.

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.[1]


Scala in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Mother, May I Go Out to Swim?"

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.[2] 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 received recognition for her performance as "Anna" in the film The Guns of Navarone (1961), starring Gregory Peck and David Niven.

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), 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'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 married actor/stockbroker Don Burnett on 21 August 1959. The marriage ended in divorce on 1 September 1970.[3]

"Cha Cha Cha for Gia"[edit]

While Henry Mancini worked with Universal Pictures, he wrote "Cha Cha Cha for Gia", a song for Gia Scala. This was an un-credited tune for the movie Four Girls in Town (1957).[4]

Postal Stamp: Republic of the Congo[edit]

In 2008, the Democratic Republic of the Congo put Gia Scala's image on their postage stamp.

Later years and death[edit]

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. The coroner reported the cause of death from an "acute ethanol and barbiturate intoxication." She had a prescription for valium, there were three tablets missing from the bottle, but valium is not a barbiturate; it is a benzodiazepine. If the report was accurate, who provided her with the barbiturates? Also, she was discovered nude sprawled across her bed, there were bruises on her body and blood 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 was her death accidental. She was 38 years old.[5] Scala's death was later ruled accidental.[6] She is interred next to her mother - Eileen O'Sullivan - Scoglio in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

One of the Most Beautiful Women Ever in Hollywood[edit]

IMDb chose Gia Scala as one of the “Most Beautiful Women Ever in Hollywood.” [7]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Crivello, Kirk (1990-01-01). Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of 14 Hollywood Beauties. Berkley. p. 180. ISBN 0-425-11968-8. 
  2. ^ Crivello, Kirk (1990-01-01). Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of 14 Hollywood Beauties. Berkley. p. 188. ISBN 0-425-11968-8. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "Four Girls in Town Sound Track". 
  5. ^ "Gia Scala Is Dead; Film Actress, 38". The New York Times. 1972-05-02. p. 46. 
  6. ^ "The Private Life and Times of Gia Scala". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Most Beautiful Women Ever in Hollywood". 

External links[edit]