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Gia Scala Profile

Gia Scala
Gia Scala
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(Giovanna Scoglio)
3 March 34 is born in Liverpool, England, to Baron Pietro Scoglio, an aristocratic Italian, and Eileen Sullivan, of Irish-Spanish descent. She has a younger sister, Tina, who will act under the name of Tina Scala.
moves with her family to Messina, Sicily, when only three months old
her childhood is misspent in war-torn Italy, where she and her younger sister play in bombed-out houses, dressing up in clothes and high heels they find among the ruins, escaping into a world of make believe. Her father works for the British government and is away a lot.
c. 48 after the war, her father plans to send her to school in England, but he does not have enough money. She suggests visiting an aunt in Long Island. To her surprise, she is allowed to go and makes the journey by way of Halifax. Her mother and her sister accompany her.
52 graduates from Bayside Queens High School. She attended the school while living with her aunt. Later she will remember her first day of school as the most difficult experience of he life. "The students were amazed when I tried to shake hands with them. My education had been more formal. Their approach to life was more casual."
while in New York she has a romance with ex-Marine Steve McQueen. Reportedly, he wants to marry her.
shortens her name to "Gia"
works briefly at the office of society columnist "Cholly Knickerbocker," Igor Cassini
she works various jobs, file clerk, sales girl in a lingerie shop, and airline reservations taker, while studying with Stella Adler and the Actors Studio
becomes a professional "quiz kid" after being discovered in the audience of "The Arlene Francis Show"
54 is discovered for films while on a television quiz show in New York. Her knowledge of music makes her a winner, and the resultant publicity catches the attention of a film studio that is conducting a search for new faces. The company's talent scouts interview screen prospects in London, Paris, Rome, and Hollywood, but the search ends in New York when she emerges as the sole candidate to be given a contract. Although she has no previous acting experience, she is attending a drama school.
54 is chosen by a Universal-International talent executive for the role of Mary Magdalene in the never-produced The Galileans
Winter 54 is placed under contract by Universal-International
25 February 55 after visiting her on U-I’s All That Heaven Allows set, columnist Erskine Johnson writes: “She looks like Ingrid Bergman and talks like her, but Gia Scala, Hollywood’s new Italian find has put her foot down about being publicized as ‘The New Ingrid Bergman.’” Gia says, “How could I be Ingrid if I’m Gia? I’m sorry I couldn’t be a second Ingrid. I won’t let the comparison be made.” When it’s mentioned she was raised in Rome, she’s quick to tell you: “But I didn’t make pictures there. You are disgraced if you are an actress in Italy. Girls who have respect for their families do not go into films. Here in Hollywood it’s different, and I’m old enough to have my way about it.”
4 June 55 Erskine Johnson reports that “Gia Scala, U-I’s Italian-Irish beauty who looks like Ingrid Bergman, and David O. Selznik’s son, Jeffrey, are very warm for any month of the year.”
30 August 55 Harrison Carroll spots Pep De Lucia and the pretty Gia Scala at Perinos
5 September 55 as West Coasters swelter in 100-degree-plus heat, movie starlets stroll through a shower of artificial snow that’s guaranteed not to melt—even on Hollywood’s sun-baked ground. But it doesn’t provide any relief from the heat as Dani Crayne, Mayra Hansen, Jane Howard, Gia Scala, Lili Kardell, Karen Kadler, and Leigh Snowden quickly learn; the gals are photographed walking through the “snow” in shorts.
11 November 55 Walter Townsend, postmaster at Universal City, is bid Godspeed by four film lovelies as he heads for the postmasters’ convention. The four well-sacked beauties are Mara Corday, Gia Scala, Dani Crayne, and Jane Howard.
29 November 55 is photographed for newspapers with actor Lex Barker, who is holding up the ears of his German shepherd, showing how the ears will look after they have been trained to stand up straight
8 May 56 the reservation was never like this…Hollywood hit Gilbert Connor, Umatilla Indian and descendant of Chief Joseph, brought from Oregon’s Umatilla reservation for a role in the new Universal film Pillars of the Sky, teaches Universal starlets war dances. She is in attendance along with Hillevi Rombin, Leigh Snowden, Karen Kadler, Maribel Arrieta, Dani Crayne, Cynthia Patrick, and Jane Howard.
23 May 56 Louella Parsons reports that “while Errol Flynn was making Istanbul in Hollywood, he saw Gia Scala at Universal-International. ‘That’s the girl I want for my picture, The Big Brodie,’ he said. So what Errol wants, Errol gets.”
23 August 56 Walter Winchell writes that “whenever a press agent sends me a romance item, I figure he lifted it from some other column I haven’t read. But maybe you haven’t either, so Paul Brinkman, Jeanne Crain’s estranged is dating Gia Scala, and that’s nice work even if it’s been reported elsewhere.”
4 September 56 Walter Winchell reports she made a quick switcheroo from Paul Brinkman (about-to-be-ex Mr. Jeanne Crain) to Seth Baker, Joan Benny’s ex, “and how can I keep up with this…"
October 56 Columbia and M-G-M buy up most of her contract with Universal-International
5 November 56 Winchell reports “Gia Scala (former Girl Friday to Cholly Knickerbocker) will knock the “What’s Her Phone Number?” set on their ears—when they see her in Columbia’s Garment Center directed by Bob Aldrich.”
8 November 56 tells an interviewer: “I feel very sorry for those who try to get by on beauty alone. Because when beauty is gone, what will they have left to build a career upon?"
is five foot eight, weighs 120 pounds, and has brown hair and green eyes
4 December 56 United Press Hollywood reporter Vernon Scott reports: “For those who think movieland is not as wacky as it used to be, try this on for size. Two years ago, Universal-International studios sent its army of talent scouts to beat the bushes of faraway lands in search of four beautiful girls. Faithfully, the boys produced a quartette of real humdingers in France's Nicole Maurey, Belgium's Miriam Verbeck, Joyce Vandermeer of Holland and a dandy Italian number named Gia Scala. Then with publicity tom-toms throbbing, the studio announced these four would arrive together via trans-Atlantic plane in New York contest for the fattest movie part of all time — Mary Magdalene. The girl chosen for the role would be made a star overnight in The Galileans, an epic of colossal proportions with an all-star cast. It was even hinted Tony Curtis might be in the picture. So all right. The curvesome cuties underwent much whoop-de-do in Manhattan and then were whisked to Hollywood where they were met by brass hats, studio brass and brass band. Who would play Mary Magdalene? Nicole, Miriam, Joyce or Gia? The answer came swiftly, none of 'em. Seems that a fellow named Cecil B. DeMille had been working on an unpretentious little four-hour film entitled The Ten Commandments, which had almost the exact theme of The Galileans. They were, in fact, taken from the same book. Gloom descended on Universal-International. The girls were heartbroken, the publicity men shaken. Nicole went back to Paris, Miriam to Brussels and Joyce to the Zuider Zee. But Gia caught the fancy of U-I executives and stayed around to enter the studio's talent school. Anyplace else in the world, this would have been the end of a frustrating story. But not in Happyville, California. A couple of months ago studio bigwigs, ruefully viewing the splash made by The Ten Commandments, rehashed their own debacle. Frowns changed to grins when they decided to film the story of the search for the girls and their trip to Hollywood. It's now before the cameras, entitled Four Girls in Town. Gia plays the French girl, Marianne Cook (of Munich) plays a German charmer, Elsa Martinelli portrays the Italian girl, and Julie Adams plays an American—shutting out Belgium and Holland, not to mention Nicole, Miriam, and Joyce. ‘I'm happy to be playing in the picture,’ Gia said wistfully, ‘even though I don't play myself. But I'm really hoping someday to play Mary Magdalene in The Galleians.’”
57 is shocked by Errol Flynn's drinking on the set of The Big Boodle
meets actor and world famous model William Ramage. Their close friendship will last until her death. “I was the brother Gia never had,” he later said.
5 January 57 it was a bit frustrating for the studio diction coach when Gia Scala was assigned a role in Four Girls in Town. The coach spent more than six months toning down Gia’s marked Italian accent. So what happened? In Four Girls, she plays a French girl who speaks with a marked French accent, and even that French accent was hard to achieve because Gia’s daily gab session with sister Italian Elsa Martinelli tended to bring a strong Italian flavor back to her English.
18 February 57 she, along with actresses Dani Crayne, Martha Hyer, Mara Corday, and Barbara Stanwyck, has her name linked with U-I actor George Nader. Nader, however, says he has no plans on marriage until he is established.
the climate between her and co-star Glenn Ford isn't the best while filming Don't Go Near the Water
is seen for publicity purposes with fellow actors George Nader, Earl Holliman, Russ Tamblyn, Grant Williams, and Floyd Simmons
19 May 57 concerned about the health of her mother, she starts to cry while live on air on "The Steve Allen Show." Some viewers think it is a clever bit of “attention grabbing” on her part. Jack O’Brian of I.N.S. reports that “After Gia’s shower of tears on Steve Allen’s show, N.B.C. was deluged by sympathetic calls insisting that Gia be given a ‘second chance’ and nobody should be ‘mean’ to Gia, who dissolved into sobs due to a ‘nervousness’ and ‘tiredness.’ Steverino is just a trifle worried that some people might think he goes around brow-beating his guest stars…and nothing could be farther from the truce since he’s strictly a gentleman. Gia admits it was a harrowing experience but relays that she’s not through with TV. ‘If it’s not through with me, I’ll try again.’"
3 June 57 is introduced to America in a newspaper article complete with many photos. She prides herself on her cooking, always finds time to wash her sports car, lives in a north Hollywood duplex with her mother, and makes her own hats. Swimming is one of her principal sports. Her mother is a painter, and she shares this interest, keeping an easel and oils always at hand. She insists she is not interested in marriage at the moment, and is partial to deep discussions, her friends calling her "little philosopher."
she aims to find film success without depending on her physical elements, something that helped her countrywomen. "I'd rather act from the neck up," she says. But, she can't escape it-her form is one of her assets.
June 57 her stand-in is Troy Antaky
3 July 57 kisses a photo of President Dwight Eisenhower in Hollywood after taking her exam for U.S. citizenship. She gave her real name as Giovanna Grazia Guiseppina Katerina Scolglio and said she was born in England. It takes about 30 days from examination to citizenship.
2 August 57 is booked for driving under the influence. She sullenly refuses to post bail when first picked up in the Pacific Palisades area, where sports car skidded into a house. She peels $263 from her purse at the end of a six-hour sojourn in the women’s jail at Lincoln Heights. “Breakfast was very bad in jail. These American jails are too depressing—those poor unfortunate people. It was a very interesting experience.” Police say she failed a sobriety test. “Just my luck, a police car was right there when the accident happened. I was not drunk. I just had a couple of glasses of champagne with a doctor who is treating my mother. He gave me some very bad news, and I got in my car to drive to the beach to walk near the water. I’m really a good girl.” She said she hurt her leg, but it did not require treatment. Her mother has cancer and is given only a few months to live.
3 August 57 a municipal judge dismisses a misdemeanor drunk driving charge against her on the ground there was insufficient evidence. She wears a bandage on her right leg during her court appearance. She said her sports car missed a curve and struck a building.
11 August 57 Director Vincent Sherman was briefing her and Kerwin Mathews for a New York location scene in The Garment Jungle in which she was supposed to be furious with Mathews. “Act real burned up. Pretend Kerwin is a New York traffic cop who has just given you a traffic ticket for going 26 miles an hour in a 25 mile an hour zone!”
27 August 57 look for more dates over here for her and young Bill Moore, shipping line heir, who met in Hawaii
October 57 Columbia assigns her the female lead in Reminiscences of a Cowboy, starring Glenn Ford, but replaces her with Anna Kashfi because she's afraid to leave her ill mother for location shooting in Texas and New Mexico
13 November 57 Mike Connolly reports “Hungary’s Eva Gabor took on Italy’s Gia Scala at a Hollywood screening of Don’t Go Near The Water. The fight started over a nasty crack Gia made about Eva’s sister Zsa Zsa. Eva came out the winnah.”
5 December 57 she may vacation in New York, and Pep De Lucia may fly there to date her
December 57 she's one of the "big girls" clicking in films along with Sophia Loren and Anita Ekberg
does the cake cutting at Modern Screen's first party of the Christmas season and dances with TV's Doug Odney
her mother dies after they return from a Hawaiian holiday. She will miss her painfully, smelling the inside of her mother's purse to bring back memories and the nearness of her.
4 February 58 her father arrives soon from Rome for a visit, his first trip to this country. She hasn’t seen him in 4 years.
22 February 58 Buddy Bregman is supposed to take her to Eydie Gorme’s opening a the Cocoanut Grove, but she's bedded with an impacted wisdom tooth
actor-dancer Russ Tamblyn turns to her after divorcing Venetia Stevenson
is out with young actor John Saxon
despondent about her mother's death, she is saved from suicide
22 February 58 Dorothy Kilgallen reports that “Richard Anderson, who plays Joanne Woodward’s reluctant beau in The Long, Hot Summer, isn’t at all the same type these long, cold winter evenings when he dates Gia Scala. Friends with romantic notions think this may be the third betrothal announcement from the cast of the film (Joanne and Paul Newman married as soon as the picture was finished, and Sara Marshall is scheduled to marry Conrad Janis in April).”
28 February 58 is admitted to U.S. citizenship with more than 100 other persons in a ceremony before U.S. District Judge Peirson M. Hall.
her father, Pietro Scoglio, is now a New York importer
1 March 58 the Tunnel of Love troupe is shooting around her; she’s bedded with neuritis
April 58 dates Earl Holliman
26 April 58 Hedda Hopper reports that when Gia went to London for a picture with Jack Hawkins, it became the start of a beautiful friendship with Lord Douglas Isham, distant relative of the royal family. They met at an Italian embassy party and have been an item since. He recently entertained her at his beautiful Sussex estate.
13 May 58 flash from Piccadilly: Gia Scala and the Marquis De Javert
24 June 58 it takes a true actress to be able to make you laugh one minute, cry the next, and she meets the bill. She only recently delighted movie audiences with a slick comedy performance as the sophisticated investigator who got Richard Widmark into a heap of trouble (against a background of laughs) in The Tunnel of Love. Now, in the new MGM release, The Angry Hills, she shows you the other side of the coin. As Eleftheria, warm-blooded peasant girl who, during the German invasion of Greece in 1941, helps Robert Mitchum to smuggle a list of names of Greek resistance leaders to the allies, she has a role that is strictly dramatic. And audiences who laughed at her quips in Tunnel will be reaching for their handkerchiefs in one scene in which she has. Robert Aldrich, the picture's director, states that Gia had built tremendous crying setup within herself, a turmoil before this sequence. "When the cameras turned, her tears — and they were real ones, not glycerin — began to flow," he said, "and by the end of the 'take' it took her some time to stop crying.”
5 August 58 her father and a few friends call at her apartment around 1:00 a.m. Neighbors hear what they think is an argument. Then, guests begin to leave. She walks with a dark-haired man to nearby Point Street, where she hails a cab and asks to be taken home/a cab is called to her apartment about midnight, and she directs the driver to take her to Waterloo Bridge, where she says she has a rendezvous. One London paper will report that upon arriving at the bridge she handed the driver a piece of jewelry and then walked to the parapet. Cab driver Maurice Moss said, “We had gone 20 yards when she changed her mind and asked to be driven to Waterloo Bridge. She got out and made a move to the parapet. I grabbed her wrist and hung on until two other drivers came and helped me.”/the cabbie summons the police on his two-way taxi radio. When police arrive, she agrees to go home. As the cab starts up, she jumps out and runs again for the edge of the bridge. There is a struggle. Her dress is torn, and a policeman is bitten. She buries her head in her hands and sobs, “I’m all mixed up. This is not good for me.” She is hauled off to the Bow Street police station, where at first she refuses to give her name. She spends the rest of the morning at the station, apparently in a state of shock. Later, her father goes to the police station and takes her home.
later, in her dressing room at Elstree Studios, where she is filming The Angry Hills with Robert Mitchum, she says, “I don’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t myself. A few months ago my mother died. We were very close—always together. It hit me very badly. I’ll be all right now, I’ll get over it. Have to, won’t I?"
9 August 58 in casual leather jacket and corduroy slacks, she smiles as she describes to reporters the incident on Waterloo Bridge. They will report that her neighbors said she went on a date the night before and then was heard arguing with her father.
28 August 58 poses for a photographer with a cigar in her mouth during luncheon at a London hotel. She later smoked the stogie.
9 October 58 Harrison Carroll reports she's due back from her London chores in The Angry Hills
17 October 58 Earl Wilson reports that after being in London headlines recently, she’s in New York, quietly, Hollywood-bound
13 May 59 is sued for $16,581 in damages by 50-year-old Hollywood salesman Sidney Land/Lang, who claims he suffered neck and back injuries in an auto collision with her car. He charges in his Superior Court suit that she was driving a car that collided with his auto on January 22.
2 June 59 Earl Wilson reports that she and her beau, agent Danny Hollywood, got stranded in a stalled elevator for two hours—alone
9 June 59 is seeing New York with Jimmy Franciscus
3 July 59 advertises for Coppertone tanning lotion
23 July 59 Miss Italy, Maria Grazia Buccella, is currently in the U.S. She says she is crazy about Gia Scala, who is lending her clothing for the Miss Universe Pageant. After she was named Miss Italy, Maria had only two days to prepare for departure to the States. She arrived here, as women say in every nation, without a thing to wear.
4 August 59 columnist Dean Gautschy, in for vacationing Harrison Carroll, asks, “Haven’t Buddy Bregman and Gia Scala rekindled an old romance? They sure looked cozy dining at the Luau.”
6 August 59 Lee Mortimer writes from Smogville on the Pacific for a vacationing Walter Winchell that Buddy Bregman (Anna Maria etc’s ex-fiancé) and Gia rekindled an old Hollywood flame
18 August 59 there’s talk that she may star in Dore Schary’s next Broadway play
back from England, she resumes her relationship with young actor Don Burnett. They have been romantically linked for two years.
21 August 59 marries actor Don Burnett, whom she had met three years before on the set of Don't Go Near The Water, at Los Angles City Hall. Superior Court Judge Burnett Wolfson tells them: “You’ve only got one job—that’s to make each other happy. Speak of each other highly at all times. When you have an argument, have it in the bedroom—alone. Argue to your hearts’ content. And when you’re through, kiss and say goodnight. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll be surprised how distant the argument seems.” The couple honeymoon at a California mountain resort; later they will travel to New York City.
she calls her husband mio tesoro (my treasure)
9 September 59 Harrison Carroll reports that Don Burnett already has made a deposit on a Laurel Canyon home. He and Gia will honeymoon there when he gives up his beach house.
21 September 59 over lunch with columnist Lydia Lane, she pushes away the menu handed by the water. After all, it is an Italian restaurant, and she needs no help. She tells Lydia: “I’m dieting again. I wish the Americans didn’t like their women so slim. The Latins don’t. I made a picture in Cuba, and the men there prefer curves, but in America they would call you fat. Those models in the high fashion magazines. To me they don’t look like women. Their figures are so flat. They are not a bit feminine."
“You can’t fight fat. Being slim begins with a state of mind. If you don’t enjoy what you are eating, a reducing diet won’t last. I know this. I’ve finally attained the state of mind where I could permanently give up bread, pasta, and sweets. I have my own special diet. I call it my ‘Eat Fat and Grow Thin’ routine. And I’m going to discipline myself about exercise. I love to walk. But it’s practically impossible to walk anywhere in California because everything is so scattered. When I was in New York, I loved walking in Central Park after dinner. A bit of exercise makes me sleep better.”
was a brunette in her recent films. “But I really like my natural blond better, and I hope I can play my next part that way. It’s quite a bother keeping it dark because my hair grows quickly, and the light roots have to be dyed once a week.”
loves perfume. “It’s my one big extravagance, but I’ve learned not to buy big bottles. There is so much lost in evaporation.” She uses a light perfume in the morning. Then in the evening—one that is more romantic.
doesn’t like the feeling of heavy cream on her face. “But I feel wonderful using a lotion with moisturizer. My mother’s complexion was beautiful. I can remember seeing her in the early morning scooping up the dew and putting it on her face. I’ve done that too. It’s a lovely feeling. And this moisture lotion I use reminds me of that.”
joins a ballet class
to play her non-speaking part in Guns of Navarone, she sacrifices her melodious speaking voice; she also gives up her clothing and her hair. She portrays a Greek resistance fighter who was shocked into dumbness by German torture. During the entire film she must express her conflicting emotions, her fears and desires, through pantomime, through expressive use of her face and hands and body.
the Burnetts spend a lot of time with his old neighbor Rock Hudson at his ranch and go sailing to Catalina Island on Hudson's 40-ft ketch Khairuzan (Arabic for "good luck")
11 December 59 she’s in Munich filming I Aim at the Stars, and her husband, who is lonesome for her, flies over. He winds up playing the “walk-through” part of a newspaper reporter who interviews her.
25 January 60 Don Burnett called Harrison Carroll to say that he and Gia had a ball on their delayed honeymoon in Europe. They traveled by train and visited Austria, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. The only misadventure occurred in Venice, when they missed the last train and had to spend the night in the railroad station.
24 March 60 Winchell reports “Gina Lollobrigida and Gia Scala (two of the finest pastafahzos in town) had the males at Leone’s forgetting to eat their Scapeeny.”
28 May 60 dip freeze…the blue Aegean Seas is cold enough to turn her the same color. She is photographed covering her bathing suit in the water at Miramare Beach, on the Isle of Rhodes.
19 August 60 Earl Wilson reports she and her husband will adopt a Greek orphan
6 November 60 in a newspaper article on actresses and suicide, a writer ponders if Gia’s jump from Waterloo Bridge in 1958 was because she lost musician Buddy Bregman to another woman
12 June 61 Earl Wilson says that Gregory Peck wants her, his Guns of Navarone co-star, to make a movie for his company
22 August 61 she and her husband spend the evening at the El Cid in San Francisco. The Spanish-named eatery has for months featured an authentic Greek '"bouzouki" orchestra. She became enamored with Greece while filming Guns of Navarone on the island of Rhodes. She said the music took her back to those beautiful and happy months spent on Rhodes. She sat there clapping her hands, humming and singing to the music—she learned many songs during her short stay there—all the while sipping "ouzo," that volcanic national drink of the modern day Greeks. Her Greek accent is so good she can pass as a native. She said that the spaghetti she ate in Rhodes was the best she had ever had.
October 61 her husband is in Italy to film Damon and Pythias. He and actor Guy Williams meet on the set and become good friends. The friendship will last until Williams’ death. Guy and his wife Janice will come to consider the Burnetts as family.
Late 61 the Burnetts are off to Yugoslavia to film The Triumph of Robin Hood. Don Burnett will later say that the film was “a terrible piece of crap, but I had a lot of fun. That was the last thing I did.”
Early 62 she and her husband settle temporarily at the Chateau Marmont, where Guy Williams and his family are living. “It was a grand time to be at the Chateau Marmont,” Don Burnett later recalls. “Film people would come in from New York and stay there, such as Franchot Tone, with whom we became friends.”
Guy and Don are both good cooks. They have adjoining suites, with a kitchen in each. “One of the dishes we enjoyed making was Gambas a la Plancha. Grilled Shrimp,” said Don. “Guy and I would put these large prawns on rock salt, then under the broiler and cook them til they’re done. The broiler cooks the top, the rock salt gets hot and cooks the bottom. With white wine it’s wonnnderful. We’d finished off our meals with a great Cuban cigar.”
Gia, fond of white wine, often drank too much. Janice Williams recalled one evening at the hotel when Don was angry with his wife and giving her the silent treatment. “One night after drinking, Gia started singing ‘To-night, To-night’ from West Side Story and would not stop. She was determined to get Don’s attention. Finally, Guy and Don said, ‘We can’t stand any more of this. We’re going for a swim,’ which got Gia so angry she threatened to do something drastic if they left to go to the pool. The men left, and Gia took off all her clothes and headed for the pool--running past people in lobbies, to the elevator, through a garage and out to the pool, where fortunately most of the guests had left. I gathered a towel and covered her in the elevator. Then she got away and ran around the pool--naked.. Guy and Don totally ignored her, acted like they didn’t even see her, but she was satisfied because she knew they saw her. I was just glad she didn’t jump in. We walked all the way back to the room with me holding the towel around her. The best part is, I thought Gia would not remember any of this later, but she used to tell this story remembering every bit and said she thought the funniest part was me trying to keep her covered!”
Summer 62 Guy and Janice Williams invite her and her husband to stay with them until they buy their house on Mulholland Drive. Gia loves kids and dotes on the two Williams children, Toni and Steve. Toni grows to love her very much and will remember the times Gia would leave the adults downstairs and go upstairs to be with the kids to talk and to play.
soon after she and Don buy their house, her husband makes a major decision about his acting career. “I had taken a trip to England and I saw Peter O’Toole in Stratford-on-Avon and realized that I was in the wrong business. Didn’t know what I was doing. Those English actors are so good. So I went back to school at UCLA and went to work on Wall Street.” Classes are hard, and at one point Don wants to quit his studies. Gia begs him not to give up and helps pay for the classes. She asks Guy and Janice Williams to encourage her husband to stay in school, and they do. She knows it will be security for him. Later, Don will become a partner and vice president of the major investment banking firm White, Weld, and Company. When it is sold, he will become vice president of another major firm, Kidder-Peabody in Los Angeles. In addition to being a good businessman, he is also a good artist.
she and her husband own two sailboats, one for him and a smaller one for her. She hears that Guy has a fantasy of sailing around the world with his family. She would like to see it become reality and is always trying to talk Don and Guy and his family into sailing their boat to some exotic place together. No one seriously takes her up on it, much to the relief of Guy’s family.
Damon and Pythias is released in the U.S. with favorable critiques. Liana Orfei plays Adriana, Damon’s girlfriend, and Ilaria Occhini plays Nerissa, wife of Pythias. When Janice and Gia watch the love scenes, they play a game with each other to pacify their jealousies. Janice later recalls, “We would nudge each other during the love scenes. When Don was onscreen with Ilaria Occhini, Gia would say, ‘She can’t act.’ When Guy was on with Liana Orfei, I’d say, ‘Now she’s the one who can’t act.'”
17 December 62 a Hollywood production featuring twist dancers and an orchestra from the famed Peppermint Lounge will be presented at Long Beach Veterans Administration Hospital today. The show, sponsored by the Veterans Assistance League, is one of the highlights of the Christmas season at the hospital. Veteran entertainer Buddy Rogers will be master of ceremonies. Actresses Gia Scala, Anna Kashfi, Connie Moore, and Angela Greene are scheduled to appear.
6 January 63 she talks about the trouble of controlling her weight over lunch with columnist Lydia Lane. “I thought the less I ate the more I would lose, but it doesn’t work that way,” she said after ordering broiled liver and a green salad. “Do you remember what a struggle I had with my weight? That was when I was under contract to Columbia and before I was married. It seemed to me the harder I tried to reduce, the more difficult it was to lose, Lydia. I made myself unhappy, and I made many mistakes, and I want to talk about them so other girls won’t have the same problem. I was living alone, and I never planned a meal. I thought, ‘I am not eating much, so I certainly can’t gain,’ but I was hungry all the time, and I ate the wrong things. A snack cart would come on the set, and I would be starved. I tried to make a meal of candy bars, potato chips, and soft drinks—everything that makes you fat. It wasn’t that I was eating so much, but the wrong kinds of foods. My studio bosses kept telling me I should lose weight, and when I told them I was dieting, they didn’t believe me. I wanted to please them, and I knew that the screen made me look heavier, but I didn’t know what to do. I became frustrated and resented criticism. I think all overweight people who can’t seem to lose resent being nagged at. Sometimes you eat out of defiance. I know I did. And I almost ruined my health with crash diets when all I needed to be told was to lead a normal life. I found this out when I married Don Burnett. I began preparing three meals a day for him. I ate regularly, wasn’t hungry for snacks, and the first thing I knew was losing weight without ever trying…I felt so much better. I began to exercise, and this helped me lose inches. Then everyone began telling me how much thinner I was and wanted to know what I was doing. I don’t think they believed me when I told them I was just being healthy and happy.”
for more energy and reducing without fatigue, send for Gia Scala’s “Vitality Diet,” Leaflet M-105. Her diet consists of three balanced meals a day. Send 10 cents and a self-addressed stamped envelope to Lydia Lane, Oakland Tribune, P.O. Box 1111, Los Angeles 53, California
January 63 she and her hubby just returned from Italy, where life is more leisurely paced than in America, she says. “When I leave Rome, I find it difficult to do without a siesta. There is nothing that replaces an afternoon nap. It carries me though the day and far into the night. I have more energy, and I sleep more relaxed if I break my tensions by lying stretched out.”
13 December 64 columnist Mike Connolly writes: “Gia Scala and Michele Montau just about finished shooting a “Convoy” segment on location in Long Beach, California. I say just about because it’s still up for grabs, what with all the whistlin’ and hootin’ they got on that soundtrack from the 650 sailors about the USS Hector.”
21 December 64 Dick Kleiner, Hollywood correspondent for Newspaper Enterprise Association, writes that she just finished a pilot film at Universal called Convoy. This time, she plays a French girl. But, as usually happens with Gia, she gets killed. She thinks she generally winds up as a corpse because she’s typed as a bad girl “and bad girls must always get killed.” Actually, Gia is one of the goodest girls around. If you judge goodness by the refusal to be photographed in the nude. “I won’t do it", she says. I think girls who do are childish and hurt their careers in the long run. Look at Jayne Mansfield—she’s a joke now. Look at that Carroll Baker layout in Playboy. As soon as a girl poses in the nude, she acquires a certain reputation. Automatically. And you can never get rid of it.” Gia may feel as strongly as she does because she’s a convent-trained girl. She thinks her shutter shyness has hindered her career. But she still hopes she’ll reach major stardom anyhow. It would be a case of Virtue Triumphant, but that doesn’t happen often.
1 June 65 tells an interviewer, "In the Italian countryside they gather wild daisies and dry them and boil the petals to make what is called Camolilla. Blondes use it as a rinse and it lightens the hair beautifully. I may bottle it!"
"I fight to keep my own tempo. Do you know what I mean? It's attitude, action, personality . . . and I think it's more important than the way you look. It's wonderful to be influenced by different places and people, but I can't be rushed or pressured." Her European taste, however, has changed subtly toward more American fashions: "I think the worst thing a girl can do is look freakish, like an abstract painting. Sometimes I think women get the wrong idea about high fashion. In the attempt to be chic, they are just bizarre. True, they attract attention— but for the wrong reasons. Like a gown that's cut too low. It's startling, but negative…I think colors are important too. When I was 18 I wore black most of the time because it made me seem older. Now I buy almost everything in bright shades . . . yellow, quite a few reds; and blues, of course, to match my eyes. Some colors I cannot wear because they put me in a bad mood. I like to wear a dress that makes me feel good. And I love to buy something new. It always gives me a lift!”
"When I first came here, my accent was so thick that I hated to speak," she confessed. "It was a beauty problem because it made me so terribly self-conscious. I spoke as little as possible. But now, nobody can stop me!”
19 January 65 actor Walter Mathau gives an interview and says that he’s not happy with the actresses of the day. Most wanted to be treated like a queen and have no talent. He’s made 21 movies and been in scores of television shows. He’s worked with Diana Lynn, Diane Foster, Debbie Reynolds, Lisa Martinelli, Barbara Rush, Patricia Neal, Lee Remick, Julie London, Gia Scala, Joanna Barns, Audrey Hepburn, Diane Baker, and Carolyn Jones, among others. He singled out Barbara Rush and Miss Hepburn as being “pretty good.” He shrugged and made faces about the rest.
6 August 65 Winchell reports that her sister Tina, a student at the Actors Studio, will marry Morton Lazarus in September. He owns Calais Originals.
29 May 66 will be “Project Hope Queen” at the black-tie Project Hope Winetasting dinner dance on June 4 at the Reno, Nevada, Centennial Coliseum. Gardner McKay will be “Project Hope King.” Over 40 foreign country consuls and their wives have accepted invitations to the ball.
25 September 66 Earl Wilson reports that her kid sister Tina Parker “had a honeymoon dinner at Manero’s, makes her film debut with Rock Hudson in Seconds.
6 February 67 forty-four fighting men in Vietnam will get the address of the miniskirted lassie they saw stepping daintily over a Manhattan snow bank. Not only her address—pinup pictures too. And maybe even a visit from the gal herself. It all goes back to last December 27, when the snow in Manhattan wasn't quite as high as an elephant's eye, but high enough.- On that date, a New York Daily News photographer snapped a picture of an attractive girl making her way through the snows of Central Park South. Then came a letter to the newspaper from Sgt. Cesar A. Soriano, spokesman for the Mortar platoon on Company D, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, serving in Vietnam. Soriano wrote: Pertaining to your issue of Tuesday, Dec. 27 ... appears a picture of a young lady by the name of Tina Scala. We have been day after day admiring the picture of the above mentioned brunette." Tina's photo, Soriano said produced an overpowering urge on behalf of himself and his 43 buddies to correspond with her, "thereby satisfying the many hearts that are throbbing in high gear." Tina, actress sister of film star Gia Scala, commented yesterday: "I'm overwhelmed. I'm so — how do you say it — it has really hit me." Miss Scala, whose measurements are 36-24-36, said she would be happy to send letters and pinup shots to her fans in Vietnam. Moreover, she added, she would like to travel to the war zone with an entertainment troupe. "I feel so sorry for the soldiers, there is so much suffering," she said. Tina, who has five films to her credit, continued: "I hope that I'll be their pinup girl and they'll follow my career. I certainly am following theirs!"
she and her sister are not close
25 March 69 she and her husband, separated after 10 years of marriage, make a court agreement under which he will pay her $800 a month pending trial of her divorce action. Under the agreement, she will have sole use of their Hollywood home.
10 September 70 after several separations and reconciliations, she and Burnett divorce. She is photographed entering Superior Court in Los Angeles, where she is awarded $1,000 month alimony over a period of 10 years and their Hollywood Hills home.
leases her house to actress Sally Kellerman and travels to Italy and to France to visit relatives and friends, such as Henry Miller, whom she befriended years before in Hollywood
20 April 71 accompanied by 21-year-old Larry Langston, she's arrested over a dispute with a downtown Los Angeles parking lot attendant when she refuses to pay an additional fifty cents overtime charge and a fistfight starts/she and her companion, 22-year-old busboy Allen Bershin park their leased car in The Pantry restaurant's lot in downtown Los Angeles around 7:00 a.m. When they return an hour late, an argument develops over a 50-cent overtime charge. The parking lot attendant, Serhad Naderi, tells police he was struck by both the actress and her companion, and he made a citizen’s arrest. Both are booked on suspicion of battery. She remains in jail in lieu of $315 bail.
13 May 71 is photographed leaving a Los Angeles courtroom looking none too pleased after pleading no contest to a disturbing the peace charge. Her companion, Allen Bershin, 22, also pleaded no contest to a battery charge. Sentencing will be on June 1.
19 May 71 a judge sends her to a state hospital for psychiatric examination after she collapses in the Ventura, California, courtroom during an appearance on a drunk driving charge. Later she's released into the custody of actress Anna Kashfi and stays with her and her son for two months.
1 June 71 she fails to appear in court for sentencing for disturbing the peace. Municipal Court Judge Irwin J. Nebron issues a bench warrant for her arrest and puts off sentencing. After the court learns she has been committed to a state hospital for psychiatric evaluation, the judge signs the warrant only to retain his jurisdiction on the case.
15 June 71 a judge delays sentencing on a disturbing the peace charge to allow her to return to Camarillo State Hospital for psychiatric observation. Municipal Court Judge Irwin J. Nebron tells her to return to court July 26. Her attorney said she would be released from the hospital by that time. She is charged in connection with a dispute with a parking lot attendance last April 20, to which she pleaded no contest.
it's a tremendous blow to her when her ex, Don Burnett, marries wealthy television actress Barbara Anderson
takes roach poison and is given the last rites of the Catholic Church
5 July 71 is injured at night when her sports car overturns on a winding mountain road. Police say she was driving alone and apparently lost control of the car and smashed into an embankment and overturned. It takes a fire crew 45 minutes to pry her from under the crumpled dashboard. She is treated at Hollywood Receiving Hospital for a laceration on the right index finger/loss of the tip of her right index finger, a neck injury, and multiple bruises.
6 July 71 is released by Hollywood Receiving Hospital to the care of her physician
27 July 71 is in court for a disturbing the peace conviction stemming from a fracas with a parking lot attendant in April. She is fined $125 and placed on 2 years probation by Municipal Judge Irwin J. Nebron. When the judge tells her a condition of probation is that she not associate with known narcotics users, she objects by saying, “I have never been around such people.” The judge says the condition is a standard in probation cases. Allen S. Bershine is fined $125 and given 3 years probation following a no contest plea to misdemeanor battery.
19 November 71 is ordered by Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner John L. Goddard to stop harassing her former husband, now a stockbroker. He enjoins her from “molesting, striking, harassing or otherwise disturbing the peace” of the man she divorced a year ago. Burnett said his former wife lit a fire on top of his car, kicked a hole in the front door of his home, repeatedly called him at the brokerage firm where he works, and rammed her car into his, causing considerable damage, among other incidents.
Early 72 develops a stomach ulcer. The doctor prescribes liquid Donatol and the tranquilizer Valium. Sometimes her lips actually look blue.
befriends MGM publicist Dore Foreman and is a frequent guest at intimate West Hollywood dinner parties
hires three young men to help her with house repairs and with the yard work. One of them, Larry Langston, 21, moves into a room over the garage.

visits the Movieland Wax Museum in Anaheim with William Ramage and a friend to see her wax figure from The Guns of Navarone. She receives the red carpet treatment, and the photographer for the museum takes several photos of her. She is not well, and the camera picks up on it. Ramage receives the photos on the day of her death, happy that she never saw them.
30 April 72 dies at approximately 7 a.m. in her Hollywood Hills home from an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol at age thirty-eight
30 April 72 there is a misunderstanding with the young men not doing the work they were hired to. She asks them to leave, and they do. Larry Langston returns later in the day to get some of his possessions and to thank her for having given him a place to stay. He finds her dead.
Langston and the other two men staying at the house tell police they last saw her alive when she walked downstairs during the morning and then returned to her second-floor bedroom. She had been drinking, they say. Police find several bottles of medication, which she had been taking for a drinking problem, in her bedroom and tentatively list her death an “apparent accidental overdose of drugs.” Only three Valium pills are missing from the bottle. An autopsy is scheduled.
her good friend William Ramage is out of the country on a business trip to Italy. He knew of her depression and suicide attempts and tried to keep her happy and out of trouble. He wonders if could have possibly saved her had he been there.
Guy and Janice Williams never abandoned her like many actors and old friends in Hollywood did. “Janice was so kind to Gia, and Guy, although sometimes he would get a little frustrated with her, always came to her aid, sometimes getting her out of the precinct,” said William Ramage.
her death comes as a blow to Toni Williams. “I was in junior high on my way to school with Steve and heard about Gia’s death on the radio. I was too upset to go to school. I called home and said ‘Come get me. No way can I do go school today!’”
1 May 72 the Los Angeles County coroner rules her death accidental. She had been taking medication for a drinking problem and also suffered from a coronary condition. The coroner tells William Ramage that she died of advanced arteriosclerosis. This ailment killed her father, and is the reason why her behavior was so bizarre in the last years. Her brain simply was not getting enough oxygen. William Ramage speaks to both Sergeant Estrada of the Hollywood Division L.A.P.D. and to Los Angeles Coroner Thomas Noguchi. They both state unequivocally that there was absolutely no foul play in her death, nor was it a suicide.
Jan Williams and William Ramage make all funeral arrangements. Her sister, Tina Scotti, tries to keep S.A.G. from giving Jan the death benefits Gia had left for her, about $700. Scotti is successful.
4 May 72 Requiem Mass is said at St. Victor's Roman Catholic Church on Holloway Drive in West Hollywood
pallbearers are Guy Williams,, John Ericson, two sons of writer Dorothy Kingsley, a young male ingénue from MGM, and her closest friend, William Ramage
as they position themselves outside to carry the casket, only William notices a yellow cab pull up behind the hearse. Out steps a slightly overweight Rita Hayworth in a large hat and sunglasses. She leans over to pay the cab driver, then immediately throws her shoulders back in the movie star posture that the studios teach so well. She sits alone in the last row of the church. When William and Guy take their seats in the church together, William whispers to Guy that Rita Hayworth is in the back of the church, and Guy can’t resist turning around for a glimpse of “Gilda.” Rita had been at the studio when she overhead Dore Freeman say Gia Scala died. “I met her once,“ she told him. “She was so beautiful and such a nice person.”
Elaine Stewart, Norma Eberhardt, Tina Louise, Betty Jane Howarth, and her ex, Don Burnett, with his wife Barbara Anderson, attend her service.
afterwards, her sister, Tina Scotty, visibly upset, is led from the church by Dore Freeman, head of the publicity department at MGM. Funeral services are held at Westview Memorial Chapel.
she is buried next to her beloved mother at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California; they share a headstone.
18 April 75 columnist Nancy Anderson reports that “Tina Scala, sister of the late Gia Scala, who died tragically a few years ago, is getting notes together for a book based on Gia’s letters to vindicate her memory. Meanwhile, you can see Tina with Harry Guardino in the new movie Capone.”
Tina Scotti gives interviews to Bob Slatzer, the writer who claims he was married at one time to Marilyn Monroe, and says that there are indications of foul play in her sister’s death
3 January 91 actor Richard Peabody writes in his weekly “Peabody’s Place” column: “Gia Scala lived across the street from me. She tried to save me from a life of indolence and sin by sharing her theory that acting was an occupation more suitable for women than men. She thought a man should get up every day and go to work. Actors, on the other hand, have no control over whether they go to work or not. If their agent doesn’t call to tell them that they got the part and to report to wardrobe in the morning, they have to figure out some other way to while away their day…maybe in a bar, or with a woman who should be off-limits because of her marital status or with any of a number of destructive diversions that can tempt the unemployed actor. Gia likened actors to prostitutes and agents to pimps—an odious though accurate analogy. The truth is that acting isn’t a good occupation for men or women unless they are emotionally stable. If they are not, it can wreak equal havoc on either sex.” Gia comes to his mind because he is writing about his location-filming experiences during Mackenna’s Gold in 1968, the long, grueling hours demanded in the desert locale, an overabundance of alcohol at night, and uppers in the morning, and the feeling of unreality that is produced. Mackenna’s Gold had the same writer-producer, director and leading man as did Gia’s The Guns of Navarone. He closes the article: “Back to my friend Gia Scala. She died in 1972 of an overdose of drugs and alcohol. The siren on the ambulance that took her to the hospital in an attempt to revive her woke me up. She was 38 years old. Acting was not a suitable occupation for her.”
Sources:
Fallen Angels by Kirk Crivello, Guy Williams, The Man Behind the Mask by Antoinette Girgenti Lane, "William Ramage, The Model Actor" in Filmfax, www.IMDb.com, www.Findagrave.com, Dell's Who's Who on the Screen, Silver Screen, Modern Screen, The Capital, Charleston Daily Mail, The Coshocton Tribune, The Chronicle Telegram, The Daily Courier, The Daily Gleaner, The Daily Times News, The Daily Review, Denton Journal, Dixon Evening Telegraph, The Fresno Bee Republican, The Gleaner, The Independant, Independent Press Telegram, Independent Star News, Indiana Evening Gazette, The Kansas City Star, Lancaster Eagle Gazette, The Lima News, The Long Beach Independant, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Mansfield News Journal, Mountain Democrat, Nevada State Journal, The Newark Advocate, The Oakland Tribune, Panama City News-Herald, Pasadena Independent, Pasadena Star-News, The Portsmouth Herald, Reno Evening Gazette, San Mateo Times, The Sheboygan Press, Syracuse Herald-Journal, The Times, The Times Recorder, Traverse City Record-Eagle, The Van Nuys News, Van Wert Times-Bulletin, The Vidette-Messenger
Recommended Books:
Fallen Angels by Kirk Crivello
Links:
Filmography