Lilia Skala

Lilia Skala

A performance in a lesser-known George Bernard Shaw play put Lilia in danger of arrest for its mocking of the ruling elite, a vague satire of Hitler.

At the time of her Oscar nomination for "Lilies of the Field," Skala was working at the Lost and Found desk of New York's Transit Authority, and was only able to attend the ceremonies when United Artists agreed to pay her fare. Within a year, Skala was supporting herself as an actress.

During the Nazi invasion of the late 1930s, Lilia's Jewish husband was arrested at one point and placed in a Viennese detention center. He was rescued by Lilia when she went to the prison and bribed the prison guards to let him go with a gold cigarette box. Her husband managed to escape over the border that same evening but was forced to leave behind Lilia and their two young sons. Lilia and her children eventually managed to escape themselves and later joined their husband and father in England. The entire family immigrated to the U.S. in 1939.

She holds the distinction of being Austria's very first female architect.

She was not shown in the "Memorial Tribute" at the 67th Annual Academy Awards ceremony in 1995, although she died in December 1994 and had been nominated for an Oscar in 1964 for her role in "Lilies on the Field".

Since 2001, actress and granddaughter Libby Skala has been performing in a one-woman show "Lilia!" based on the fascinating, eventful life of her actress/grandmother Lilia. Libby offers portrayals of both her grandmother and herself in these series of conversations.