Lilia Skala, actress best known for her role in “Lilies of the Field,” died Dec. 18 at her home in Bay Shore, N.Y. Her family said she was in her 90s.
Her portrayal of the stubborn Mother Superior in “Lilies of the Field” (1963), which starred Sidney Poitier, earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award.
Her other film credits include “House of Games,” “Ship of Fools,” “Roseland,” ‘”Flashdance,” “Heartland” and “Call Me Madam,” co-starring Ethel Merman, with whom she shared the stage in the original Broadway production.
Her most recent film work was in the 1991 film “Men of Respect.”
Born in Vienna, her first love was architecture, but as theater slowly became her calling, she joined the Max Reinhardt Repertory Theater. She was considered an Austrian stage and screen star.
After immigrating to the United States in 1939, her first role was that of a housekeeper in the Broadway staging of “Letters to Lucerne” (1941). She appeared in numerous Broadway and Off Broadway productions, including a 1981 musical version of “The Shop on Main Street” at the Jewish Repertory Theater, “With a Silk Thread,” “Arms and the Man” and “The Survivors.”
TV credits include appearances on “The Goldbergs,” “Kraft Theater,” “I Remember Mama” and “Search for Tommorrow.”
She also performed in the New York City Opera’s 1965 staging of “The Threepenny Opera” in the role of Mrs. Peachum.
Skala is survived by sons Martin and Peter and five grandchildren.