Lilia Skala

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Lilia Skala
File:Lilia Skala.jpg
Skala in 1969
Born Lilia Sofer
(1896-11-28)November 28, 1896
Vienna, Austria
Died December 18, 1994(1994-12-18) (aged 98)
Bay Shore, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1931–1990
Spouse(s) Erik Skala (1922-?) (his death) (2 children)

Lilia Skala (November 28, 1896 – December 18, 1994) was an Austrian-American actress.

Personal life

Skala was born Lilia Sofer in Vienna, Austria. 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.[1][2] Skala was one of the first women to graduate in architecture and engineering from the University of Dresden, before practicing architecture professionally in Vienna.[3]

In the late 1930s, she was forced to flee her Nazi-occupied homeland with her husband, Louis Erich Skala, and their two young sons.[2][4] (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.

Skala was a Christian Scientist.[5][6][7] She was introduced to the religion in Vienna in the 1920s.[8]


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).[9]

She died in Bay Shore, New York, of natural causes at age 98. Her life is the subject of an eponymous one-woman play Lilia! The play is written and performed by her granddaughter, Libby Skala.[10]

See also


  1. Tallmer, Jerry (2009-08-14). "Libby Skala encapsulates 100 years of life, love, dance". Chelsea Now. Retrieved 2009-08-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1
  3. "Lilia Skala Bio". Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  4. Theatrical tribute to a special grandmother
  5. "AT THE THEATER; Lilia Skala, thinking out loud". 7 January 1986.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. [1]
  7. Gibson, Gwen (31 March 1988). "Versatile Lilia Skala Is Seeking New Fields". Chicago Tribune.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Taylor, Clarke (November 24, 1977). "Skala as Rosa; Grande Dame of 'Roseland'". Los Angeles Times. p. H30. Retrieved December 3, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Libby Skala Interviews & Press

External links