July 22, 1939
Gila Almagor, known as the “queen of the Israeli cinema and theater,” is born as Gila Alexandrowitz in Haifa four months after an Arab sniper killed her father, a policeman who immigrated from Germany. Her mother, Chaya, is institutionalized in 1954 after struggling to handle the realization that the Nazis killed all her relatives in the Holocaust, and Gila moves to an educational youth village.
Almagor leaves the youth village for Tel Aviv after two years and is accepted into the Habima Theatre school. She makes her stage debut for Habima at age 17 in “The Skin of Our Teeth.” She marries a former Habima director, Yaakov Agmon, in 1963.
Almagor in 1958 begins a long run at Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theatre, where she establishes herself as a leading lady of the theater. She expands to screen work in 1960 and appears in more than 40 films, including “Munich” and “The Debt,” and 10 television series, such as “In Therapy” and “Nehama.”
In 1986 she publishes an autobiographical novel, “The Summer of Aviya,” which documents her relationship with her mother. She adapts the novel into a one-woman theatrical performance and a film in which she plays the character based on her mother. Controversy arises when it becomes clear that her mother was a German emigrant but was not a Holocaust survivor as presented in the book. Almagor responds with a second autobiographical novel and film, “Under the Domim Tree,” which wins a National Jewish Book Award in 1995.
She receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Israeli Film Academy in 1997 and the Israel Prize for cinema in 2004
Almagor serves on the boards of nonprofit organizations that introduce youths to the arts and is the founder of an organization that fulfills wishes for children with terminal illnesses.