Once acclaimed as a symbol of Israeli culture, in which her work has been noted to have enriched the Israeli art scene, Gila Almagor is known today as one of Israel's leading actresses and renowned authors; however, her early years were not glamorous. Gila was born on July 22, 1939, in Petach Tikva. Her father died before she was born and she spent most of her younger years living in various children's homes. Her love for the stage and acting began in her early teens, and she was only seventeen when she made her debut.
Following a two-year period of studying ballet, acting and music in New York in her early twenties, Gila moved to Israel where she dedicated her life to the screen, stage and television. The results of her hard work and talent were displayed through the numerous awards she received, and the choice of various directors to cast her in a number of the major female roles of the theatrical canon. Some of her well-known roles include leads in Anne Frank, Jeanne d'Arc, The Crucible, Three Sisters, The Bride and the Butterfly Hunt, They Were All My Children and Medea. Almagor has also appeared in more than 40 films, including Sallah (1965), Fortuna Girl From the Dead Sea (1967), Siege (1970), The House on Chelouche Street (1973), The Death Merchants (1975), The Thin Line (1980), Hide and Seek (1980), The Spy Who Never Was (1986), Every Time We Say Goodbye (1986), Summer of Aviya (1988) and Under the Domim Tree (1995). To add to her long list of accomplishments, Gila has also appeared in numerous Israeli television series.
In 1987, she published her book The Summer of Aviya, based on her personal biography. Well received, both at home and abroad, this book has been translated into numerous languages and has had widespread success. Later, Almagor appeared in a one-woman show, also by the name The Summer of Aviya, which was awarded the Rubina Prize. The book was also made into a movie, which allowed her to represent Israel at important film festival worldwide. Her second book, Under the Domim Tree, which was published in June 1992, also garnered widespread success and was made into a movie in 1995, which won the Vulgin Prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival. In 1997, she received the Israeli Oscar for her contribution to Israeli cinema. In 1999, she received an honorary award for her life's work at the international film festival in Haifa.
Almagor was also one of the founders of Ami (the Israeli Artists Association) and served as the spokesperson and deputy chairperson of the organization. Currently, she serves as the president of ASSITEJ Israeli - the Israeli branch of the Association of Theatre for Children and Young People, as a judge at international film festivals, as a member of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa City Council, and as chairperson of the Culture Committee for the city. She recently also became a member of the board of AICE (Australia Israel Cultural Exchange ), and is actively involved in promoting the continuation of cultutral exchange between the two nations.
Almagor is active in philanthropy and established the "Gila Almagor Wishes Foundation," which is a nonprofit organization that supports sick children and works to fulfill their wishes. In addition, she serves as the head of the Tel Aviv branch of the Israeli Cancer Association. In July 1996, she received the President's Merit Award for Volunteers as recognition for her years of voluntary work. Almagor has also won the Israel Prize.
Source: Gila Almogar.
Photo: Fritz Cohen, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.