Thursday, July 5, 2012

This Is the Girl, But Who Is She?

This is Gila Golan.


However, this is also Zoshia Zavatski, Zusia Sobetzcki and Miriam Goldberg.

It’s appropriate that I came across her photo in one of the L.A. Daily Mirror’s “movieland mystery” photos — photographs of unidentified and sometimes unidentifiable VIPs of yesteryear. But even with the revelation that the beautiful brunette pictured was the Miss Israel-turn-actress who stared in Our Man Flint (which is the movie that Austin Powers was parodying more so than any one James Bond movie), the question lingers: Who is this woman?

Wikipedia lays it out: She was born in Poland around 1940. The exact date isn’t known because she abandoned on the streets of Krakow, where she was found by a Catholic family who raised her as Zoshia Zavatski. Following the end of World War II, she eventually moved to Israel, where she took the name Zusia Sobetzcki, only to later become Miriam Goldberg. A magazine spread launched a modeling career, which ultimately won her the Miss Israel Crown in 1960. By that time, she’d changed her name a third time — to Gila Golan, “to prevent word getting back to her religiously conservative benefactors,” according to Wikipedia — and it was Gila Golan who made her mainstream movie debut in the 1965 Vivien Leigh film Ship of Fools.

That’s a lot of living to pack into the first twenty-five years of one life. And while I hate to impose a narrative into the life of a real, still-living person, I feel compelled to point out the strangeness in this woman, who never knew her biological family nor the name that family presumably gave her, going on to change her name three times and embark on a career as an actress, constantly taking on new names.

For the record, the character she played in Our Man Flint was named Gila, further collapsing the boundaries of who this woman was at any given point.

Now Thats Interesting!, previously:

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