Lilia Skala


Actor
Lilia Skala

About

Birth Place
Austria
Born
November 28, 1896
Died
December 18, 1994

Biography

Galvanizing, stern-featured Viennese character actress with extensive Broadway experience ("The Diary of Anne Frank," "Medea and Jason") and regular if limited film and TV credits. A decade after recreating her Broadway role in the film version of the Irving Berlin musical "Call Me Madam" (1953) Skala first gained attention in features with her splendid, Oscar-nominated performance as th...

Biography

Galvanizing, stern-featured Viennese character actress with extensive Broadway experience ("The Diary of Anne Frank," "Medea and Jason") and regular if limited film and TV credits. A decade after recreating her Broadway role in the film version of the Irving Berlin musical "Call Me Madam" (1953) Skala first gained attention in features with her splendid, Oscar-nominated performance as the disciplined, argumentative but good-hearted Mother Superior who coaxes an itinerant handyman (Sidney Poitier) into building a church in the delightful sleeper "Lilies of the Field" (1963).

Most typically in prominent, commanding supporting roles, Skala has also played nuns in TV-movies including "Who Has Seen the Wind?" (1965) and the pilot for "Ironside" (1967). She also played doctors regularly, performing well as Lindsay Crouse's mentor in David Mamet's psychological thriller "House of Games" (1987) and as one of the doctors who enhances a retarded man's mental capacities in the less-than-sterling "Charly" (1968). Skala's amusing recurring role as the battleaxe mother-in-law on the 1960s sitcom "Green Acres" was a welcome chance for her to do comedy; more typically she has played dramatic roles in the apocalyptic drama "Testament" (1983, as a music teacher) and the striking prairie saga "Heartland" (1980, as a brusque rancher). Also in 1983, she played a former ballerina who inspires Jennifer Beals in "Flashdance." One of her most affecting performances used the tough aspects of her acting persona to counterpoint her lonely, careworn character in the ballroom-set anthology "Roseland" (1977), which Skala effortlessly stole from a sterling ensemble cast of elderly character stalwarts. In that film, she tugs heartstrings by dying on the dance floor, a smile on her face.

Life Events

1953

Played first sizable American feature film role in "Call Me Madam", recreating her 1950 stage role

1963

Returned to feature film work in "Lillies of the Field"

1965

Played the recurring role of the mother-in-law of Oliver Douglas (Eddie Albert) in the popular CBS sitcom "Green Acres"

1977

Co-starred in "Roseland"

1983

Had key roles in "Flashdance" and "Testament"

1991

Appeared in final feature film, "Men of Respect"

Videos

Movie Clip

Lilies Of The Field (1963) - God Sets A Mighty Poor Table We still don’t know much about Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier), maybe an itinerant handyman in Arizona, except that he wanted to be paid, rather than be asked to stay to dinner with the band of European nuns, led by Lilia Skala as Mother Maria, early in Lilies Of The Field, 1963.
Lilies Of The Field (1963) - "Vee Build A Shapel" Morning after his impromptu overnight stay with the immigrant nuns in Arizona after he did some work for them while passing by, Homer (Sidney Poitier) figures he’s outa there, but Mother Maria (Lilia Skala) has bigger plans, in Ralph Nelson’s Lilies Of The Field, 1963.
Lilies Of The Field (1963) - My Skin Is Black Handyman Homer (Sidney Poitier) starting to enjoy after dinner, when he sees that Mother Maria (Lilia Skala) and the nuns (Lisa Mann, Isa Crino, Francesca Jarvis, Pamela Branch) are learning English from a record player, still on the first evening, in director Ralph Nelson’s Lilies Of The Field, 1963.
Lilies Of The Field (1963) - You Don't Fuss With Your Contractor Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier) was leaving but agreed to drive Mother Maria (Lilia Skala) and Gertrude (Lisa Mann) into the nearby Arizona town, leading to an encounter with contractor Ashton (played by director Ralph Nelson), and a un-premeditated commitment, in Lilies Of The Field, 1963.
Lilies Of The Field (1963) - He Has Sent Me A Big Strong Man From the opening, Sidney Poitier is somewhere in Arizona and needs water for his station wagon, and comes upon a group of presumably German nuns at a previously deserted ranch, Lilia Skala their chief, in director Ralph Nelson’s Lilies Of The Field, 1963.

Trailer

Family

Martin
Son
Survived her.
Peter
Son
Survived her.

Bibliography