Skala in 1969
28 November 1896
|Died||18 December 1994 (aged 98)|
|Resting place||Lakeview Cemetery |
New Canaan, Connecticut, U.S.
Louis Erich Skala
(m. 1922; his death 1980)
Lilia Skala (née Sofer; 28 November 1896 – 18 December 1994) was an Austrian-American actress. She is perhaps best known for her role in the film Lilies of the Field (1963), for which she received critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination.
Skala was born Lilia Sofer in Vienna. Her mother, Katharina Skala, was Catholic, and her father, Julius Sofer, was Jewish and worked as a manufacturers representative for the Waldes Koh-i-noor Company. She was one of the first women to graduate in architecture and engineering from the University of Dresden, before practicing architecture professionally in Vienna.
In the late 1930s, she was forced to flee her Nazi-occupied homeland with her husband, Louis Erich Skala, and their two young sons. (Lilia and Erich adopted the non-Jewish sounding surname of Lilia's mother.) Skala and her husband managed to escape (at different times) from Austria and eventually settled in the United States.
Lilia Skala appeared on countless television shows and serials from 1952 to 1985 (for example, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1965), and as Grand Duchess Sophie kept company on Broadway with Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam not too many years after toiling in a Queens zipper factory as a non-English-speaking refugee from Austria.
She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress for her most famous role as the Mother Superior in 1963's Lilies of the Field opposite Oscar-winning Sidney Poitier. Skala also appeared in Ship of Fools (1965), Charly (1968), Deadly Hero (1976), Eleanor and Franklin (1976), Roseland (1977), Heartland (1979) Flashdance (1983) and House of Games (1987).
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