Fashion Model. She was one of the first of the "Supermodels," and was portrayed in a television movie, "Gia" (1998) by actress Angelina Jolie, about her life and death. Born to a middle class family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where her father owned a string of hoagie shops, she was especially close to her mother, Kathleen. When the marriage broke up in 1971, she was eleven, and her parents agreed to share custody of the several children. Her mother quickly remarried the next year. Split between two households, she felt abandoned and became rebellious as a teenager. Teen worshiping David Bowie, she went to his concerts, smoking marijuana, and leading a bisexual life style. In her mid-teens, her beautiful face and figure attracted offers to model, and her mother, thinking that modeling would help give discipline to her daughter, encouraged her to try modeling as a career. Shortly after graduating from high school in 1977, she moved to New York City to pursue a modeling career, where her beauty, street-smart attitude, and coolness with a touch of vulnerability, quickly made her a top model, and she was selected for photo covers on numerous top magazines, including "Vogue" and "Cosmopolitan." She would quickly make $10,000 a day in modeling. With fame and wealth, she quickly fell in with the decadence of the times, becoming a regular at the top, hot night spots, falling in and out of love with a variety of men and women, and moving quickly into the drug scene. In 1980, her mentor and agent, Wilhelmina Cooper, died of lung cancer, and soon she turned to heroin for comfort. Photos of her in the November 1980 issue of "Vogue" clearly show track marks on her arms from her drug abuse. In 1981, she enrolled in a detox program, but over the next several years, she would go clean, fall back into heroin abuse, go clean again, and continue to try modeling. Her drug abuse greatly affected her modeling career, and after being caught with drugs in 1983 at an Africa shoot, she was fired, never to be a model again. She moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where she would sleep with men for money to buy drugs, and eventually came down with HIV. When she became very sick, she turned to her mother, who had her immediately hospitalized.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson