The Life of Pia

Please help us fill in the gaps in Pia's biography with any information you have to share. If you can quote an actual source, that would help tremendously. Most of the info below is taken from net sources and newspaper clippings.

Here's what we know about Pia so far:

Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1954, as Pia Schipani, Pia Zadora has one of the oddest celebrity stories to date. Granted, we don't know much of the story, but what we've seen so far is pretty weird. (BTW, Zadora is apparently her grandmother's name, which Pia took as a stage name.)


Pia's first film work was in 1964 in Santa Claus Conquers The Martians, a pretty sappy film that has been notoriously lampooned by the guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000.

17 years later, Zadora was awarded a Golden Globe award (as Best New Star of the Year) for her work in a film called Butterfly. (See more on this below in Personal Life.)

After making Nevada Heat (aka Fake-Out), she made what was probably the worst film of her career (or any career, for that matter): The Lonely Lady (1983). This movie, based on the novel by Harold Robbins, held the title of Worst Film of All Time by winning more Razzies (the opposite of the Oscars) than any other film in history (it took 6 out of 10 possible awards). It held this title until Showgirls took it away 12 years later. The fascinating thing about this is that, thematically, Showgirls and The Lonely Lady are nearly the same movie. Someone should learn that "local girl makes good and has lots of sex along the way" movies don't work.

About the same time, Pia also won the Sour Apple award from the Hollywood Womens' Press Club as the "celebrity who most believes in his or her publicity." In the same year, Tom Selleck and Joan Collins win the Club's Golden Apples as stars of the year. (Anybody have a year on this?)

After that, Zadora's film career petered out. Between 1985 and 1994 she appeared as herself in Feel the Motion, Troop Beverly Hills, and Naked Gun 33 1/3. She also had a terrific bit part as a beatnik chick in John Waters' Hairspray, and appeared as Little Miss Muffet in Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme. Most of her career at that point was focussed towards her singing. It is generally agreed that Pia is better at singing than she is at acting.

Zadora reportedly appeared in a stage production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Read this related net.rumor.pia. (She never actually played the role.)

Personal Life

Pia eventually married Meshulam Riklis, an Israeli millionaire, who reportedly bought Zadora's way into Hollywood (according to the worst -- and most fun -- sort of rumor). We don't know much about him. Allegedly, Riklis' money helped buy Pia's Golden Globe award for Butterfly, a rumor strengthened by the fact that in the same year Pia got Razzies for Worst New Star and Worst Actress for the same movie.

On New Year's Day in 1985, Zadora gives birth to a 7 pound, 10 ounce baby girl in Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. She names it Kady, in honor of the young woman Pia played in Butterfly.

In August of 1985, Pia, Riklis, and Kady are involved in a 3-car crash in August in Malibu, CA, which leaves her road manager with multiple injuries. Pia and her family are unhurt.

1/13/87: BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Pia Zadora got hundreds of phone calls after she advertised for the return of one of her dogs. However, most of the callers were not concerned about the dog. ''Mostly wackos are calling,'' said the entertainer's manager, Tino Barzie. ''One guy even got on the line and started barking at me. The answering service is going crazy. Hundreds of calls have come in. We can't keep up.'' Zadora discovered the dog missing when she returned last week from an appearance in Las Vegas, Nev. The weekend newspaper advertisement offered a reward for the return of Toki, a white female Akita.

Zadora said she included her name in the ad to attract attention, and has branded her other dogs as a precaution.

4/1/87: After two dismal roles in two dreadful movies, Pia Zadora's career was in shambles; she'd become a national joke. The star of The Lonely Lady was considered a talentless sexpot with an older, multimillionaire husband buying her way into the limelight. Yet Zadora didn't cave in. Instead, she returned to her first love: singing. With the release of Pia & Phil (Epic) in 1985, an album of standards recorded with the London Philharmonic, she silenced a lot of critics and got a fresh start.

In January of 1988, Pia and Riklis buy Pickfair, the honeymoon estate of screen stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

4-21-90: Termites and Pia Zadora raze the former home of the rich and famous. Pickfair, the legendary estate of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, has been razed to clear space for a small palace for actress Pia Zadora and her husband. Once upon a time, Pickfair was home to distinguished guests from the world over, among them Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, the king of Spain and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Now all that remains of the estate is a guest wing built in the 1930s and the remnants of Pickfair's living room. Pickfair, which grew from a $3,000 stable in 1911 to become a vast, green-gabled melange of American Colonial styles, at one time was called the nation's second-most famous residence · after the White House. But contractors said it couldn't be saved. In essence, time had eaten away at the timbers of Pickfair.

8-8-90: Pia Zadora and Joe Garagiola, both back from apparent show-biz extinction, partied together in New York to celebrate their new gigs. Pia, who starts touring with Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles later this month, said she finds it easy to remember Today Show returnee Joe's last name. ""I just think about the thing I do every morning · gargle · and the rest just seems to flow,'' she giggled.

8-29-93: Pickfair, the honeymoon home of early film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. that was almost completely demolished and rebuilt after it was purchased by entertainer Pia Zadora, was being prepared for a reopening party recently. The 3.1 acre estate, which Zadora bought from Lakers' owner Jerry Buss for just under $7-million in 1988, has been a construction project of Zadora's and her husband, businessman Meshulam Riklis, since 1989.

One the only reminders of Pickfair is a large letter ""P'' that is said to grace the main entrance.

11-3-93: Just hours after the wildfires that swept California last week were declared fully contained, a new fire driven by strong desert winds cut a wide swath of destruction Tuesday, this time through the Santa Monica Mountains and down to the Pacific Ocean at the exclusive city of Malibu. By late afternoon, about 5,000 acres of prime coastal real estate were ablaze and dozens of high-priced homes in Topanga Canyon, Malibu Canyon and other areas were destroyed. The flames came within 100 yards of Malibu's Civic Center and sent hundreds of people fleeing in terror, including residents of Malibu Colony, home of many performers, including Sting, Bob Newhart, Burgess Meredith, Pia Zadora and Larry Hagman.

In recent years, Pia has apparently been sticking close to home, and working on her singing career, appearing in the odd movie, usually in a cameo. According to several sources, she had a second child with Riklis, Christopher, before divorcing him.

Zadora later married Jonathan Kaufer, the director of several films, including Bad Manners.


Pia Zadora and husband Jonathan Kaufer have split. According to Variety columnist Army Archerd, Zadora has moved back into Pickfair:

Pickfair once again has Pia Zadora living in the main house--and her ex, Meshulam Riklis, is living in the guest house. Riklis says Pia has separated from husband Jonathan Kaufer and she has moved into the showplace house of Hollywood history, in which she and Riklis have an ownership agreement. She moved into the house ``for better security,'' says Riklis.

This biography is the closest thing I have to a complete history of the Life of Pia. If you have any other info you think I should know, email me.