Gia Scala & Her Mysterious Death

Gia Scala

Gia Scala was a beautiful actress who struggled with alcoholism and died young

She was born Josephine Grace Johanna Scoglio on March 3, 1934 in Liverpool, England. Her father was Italian and her mother was Irish. When she was a child her family moved to Italy. At the age of sixteen she moved to New York City where she attended Bayside High School. Gia worked as a file clerk while studying acting with Stella Adler. The teenager had a two year romance with actor Steve McQueen. A talent scout saw her on a television game show and she was offered a contract at Universal. In 1954 she made her film debut with a bit part in All That Heaven Allows. She appeared in numerous films including The Price Of Fear, Four Girls In Town, and The Garment Jungle. Gia became known for her great beauty and her charming Italian accent. Unfortunately she had developed a drinking problem and was arrested for drunk driving in August of 1957. Following the death of her mother she fell into a deep depression and attempted suicide. On August 21, 1959 she married actor Don Burnett. The couple wanted children but she was unable to get pregnant. Gia co-starred with Doris Day in The Tunnel Of Love and with Gregory Peck in The Guns Of Navarone.

Gia ScalaGia Scala

Although her performances got good reviews her film career never really took off. During the 1960s she made guest appearances on the television shows Jericho and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. She was offered a large sum of money to pose nude but she turned it down. Her final acting role was in a 1969 episode of It Takes A Thief. After several separations she and Don divorced in 1970. Gia continued to struggle with alcoholism and depression. In early 1971 she was arrested for disturbing the peace and drunk driving. When her husband got married again she attempted suicide by swallowing rat poison. She was badly injured in July of 1971 when she crashed her car on a mountain road. Tragically on April 30, 1972 she was found dead in her bedroom. Several bottles of medication and empty liquor bottles were found in her room. The coroner said she died from an overdose of alcohol and barbiturates. Gia was only thirty-eight years old. It is unclear whether her death was suicide or an accident. She was buried next to her mother at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Her sister Tina believes she may have been murdered.

Gia ScalaGia Scala

Recommended Reading