She was born Gianfranca Gabellini on January 4th 1938 in Rimini, Italy. At the time of writing she is still living. She married TV director Piero Schivazappa on April 14th 1968 and they have one son, Emiliano, born in 1974. From interviews we learn that she had 3 sisters. She is 1.74 m (5’ 8 1/2”) tall.
I have found several reports, including her Wikipedia profile, that tell us that, prior to choosing to become an actress, Scilla studied law at Oxford University in England, where she reportedly graduated with a doctorate. An alternate history, from an article in British magazine Photoplay, says that at 14 she joined the local drama society, where she was spotted by a talent scout from the Academia di Silvio D'Amico, where she was offered a scholarship and left school at 16. The latter seems far more likely as she would have to have been 14 or 15 when she attended Oxford in order to return to Rome by 1954, but choose which legend you prefer!
In 1954 she began studying acting at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, graduating in 1956 (I have opted to include her in our “Diva” section as she never received the “c.s.c.” credit in any of her films). The C.S.C. website lists her as having the pseudonym “Angela Mensa”, but I cannot find any evidence of her ever having used this name.
She made her film debut in 1955 and in 1957 she gained some notoriety when she appeared as the body double for Sophia Loren in Boy on a Dolphin. The publicity from this seems to have been beneficial to her career as she rapidly rose up the cast lists in the next few years. In 1959 she had some minor plastic surgery to make her look less like Loren, most notably to her nose, which is confirmed by several contemporary magazine articles.
In the early 1960’s she rose to the status of leading lady, particularly making her mark in the peplum genre, and she worked steadily throughout the decade. Scilla also did some modelling during this period, including an appearance in Playboy magazine in 1963, as well as investing in a fashionable nightclub. She married TV director Piero Schivazappa in 1968, having presumably met him on the set of the mini-series Odissea, for which he directed one episode.
From the start of the 1970’s until her final appearance in 1988 she worked exclusively in television, mostly in series directed by her husband. This proved a fortuitous decision as it enabled her to sidestep the pitfalls of exploitation films and declining careers faced by many of her contemporaries. She also reportedly appeared in the theatre during this period.
Little is know of Scilla’s life following her retirement, but she did hit the headlines in unfortunate circumstances in 1999, when her 87 year-old father, Giuseppe, was stabbed to death by a tenant he was attempting to evict.
In English her name is pronounced as "Sheila".
- Due sosia in allegria .... unknown role (poster credit)
- Boy on a Dolphin …. Body double for Sophia Loren as Phaedra (uncredited)
- Gente Felice …. Gina (credited)
- Capitan Fracassa (TV mini-series) all episodes …. Zerbina (credited)
- Gambe d'oro …. Gianna Savelli (credited)
- La legge del vizio .... Lola (poster credit - unconfirmed role)
- Agi Murad, il diavolo bianco …. Princess Maria Vorontsova (credited)
- Cara delinquente (TV movie) .... Penelope Shawn (credited)
- I ragazzi dei Parioli …. Nuccia (credited)
- Non ti conosco più (TV movie) .... Luisa (credited)
- Tarzan's Greatest Adventure …. Toni (credited)
- Genitori in blue jeans …. Colette (credited)
- I piaceri del sabato notte …. Patrizia (credited)
- Il mulino delle donne di pietra …. Elfie Wahl (credited)
- La Venere dei pirati …. Isabella (credited)
- Le canaglie …. Gina (credited as "Scylla Gabel")
- Noi duri …. Josette (credited)
- Ragazza mia (TV mini-series) all episodes …. Gladys (credited)
- Festival Girls …. Nadja (credited)
- Il pozzo delle tre verità …. Rossana Stromboli (credited)
- Il ratto delle sabine …. Dusia (credited)
- La grande vallata .... unknown role (poster credit)
- Le femmine seminano il vento …. Kyssa (poster credit)
- Mara .... Mara (poster credit - unconfirmed role)
- Il paladino della corte di Francia …. Beatrice (credited)
- La collana (TV movie) .... Gianna Forestier (credited)
- Maciste, il gladiatore più forte del mondo …. Thalima (credited)
- Sodoma e Gomorra …. Tamar (credited)
- Un branco di vigliacchi …. Signora De Rossi (credited)
- Una tragedia americana (TV mini-series) Ep, 1 …. Ortensia (credited)
- Village of Daughters …. Angelina Vimercati (credited)
- I diavoli di Spartivento …. Isabella (credited as "Seilla Gabel")
- I due colonnelli …. Iride (credited)
- I fuorilegge del matrimonio …. Wilma (credited)
- Il giorno più corto …. The soldier's lover (uncredited - re-used footage)
- Il terrore dei mantelli rossi …. Cristina (credited)
- La seconda moglie (TV movie) …. Lady Mabel Orreyed (credited)
- Cadavere per signora …. Renata (credited)
- Gli schiavi più forti del mondo …. Claudia (credited)
- Il figlio di Cleopatra …. Livia (credited)
- La vendetta di Spartacus …. Cinzia (credited)
- Una storia di notte …. A German tourist (credited)
- Con rispetto parlando .... unknown role (credited)
- Io uccido, tu uccidi …. Renata (uncredited - re-used footage)
- La donna di fiori (TV mini-series) Ep. 1 …. Cheril (credited)
- 100 ragazze per un playboy …. Bibi Lori or Anita Bionda (credited)
- Djurado …. Barbara Donovan (credited)
- Laura (TV movie) .... Laura Hunt (credited)
- Modesty Blaise …. Melina (credited)
- Tiro a segno per uccidere …. La Tigra (credited)
- Vivere insieme (TV series) S. 1, Ep. 39: "L'appuntamento" …. Elena D'Urso (credited)
- Das große Glück .... Molly Pink (poster credit - unconfirmed role)
- In trappola (TV movie) .... Simone Lemoine (credited)
- Zärtliche Haie .... Zeezee (poster credit - unconfirmed role)
- Odissea (TV mini-series) …. Elena (credited)
- Johnny Belinda (TV movie) …. Belinda (credited)
- ...e le stelle stanno a guardare (TV mini-series) Eps.1, 4, 5, 6, 7 …. Laura Millington (credited)
- Vino e pane (TV mini-series) all episodes …. Annina (credited)
- L'assassinio dei fratelli Rosselli (TV mini-series) all episodes …. Marion Rosselli (credited)
- Una città in fondo alla strada (TV mini-series) Eps.1, 2 …. Signora Martelli (credited)
- Dov'è Anna? (TV mini-series) all episodes …. Paola Silvestri (credited)
- Il garofano rosso (TV mini-series) Eps.2, 3 …. Zobeida (credited)
- L'albergo del libero scambio (TV movie) .... Marcella (credited)
- L'esclusa (TV mini-series) all episodes …. Marta Ajala (credited)
- L'elemento D (TV mini-series) all episodes …. Sybille Siegerwald (credited)
- Un eroe del nostro tempo (TV mini-series) all episodes …. Virginia (credited)
- Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana (TV mini-series) all episodes …. Liliana Balducci (credited)
- Quei trentasei gradini (TV mini-series) - ep.1 …. Contessa Dora (credited)
- Festa di Capodanno (TV mini-series) - ep.1 …. Laura Bartezzaghi (credited - unconfirmed role)
- Tua per la vita (1955) ANICA as La sartina dell' Atelier (credited as Scilla Gabellini)
- Women in Love (1958 TV movie) IMDb as Topazzia in the episode 'After So Long'
- Legend of the Lost (1957) Some sources list this as being a second film where Scilla appeared as a body double for Sophia Loren, however I have looked through the film and there are really no scenes where Miss Loren would require a body double.
- Bastardo, vamos a matar (1971) IMDb as Susanna. They say should appear uncredited (which she never did), but she does not.