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Gia Carangi - America's First Supermodel

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Gia Marie Carangi January 29, 1960- November 26, 1986 American Supermodel

Gia Marie Carangi was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 29, 1960. Her young life was cut short November 26, 1986 due to infection with the AIDS virus she had acquired as an IV drug user. The American beauty was a heroin addict. She began using drugs as a result of her highly superficial profession and successful career in the modeling industry at a young age. This was a terrible tragedy for everyone who loved her and for Gia, herself, a girl trying to get clean, who had simply stepped too deeply into Heroin abuse.


Gia Had It All!

(apparently not everything, though)...

This beautiful, spirited woman had some deep-rooted issues. I could spend all evening speculating on what they were, but nobody really knows what painful existence she was living beside Gia, herself. Gia's mother left home when she was still a young girl and married another man. Gia was raised in a home with her father and brothers. The beautiful Gia was an "out" lesbian in a time when not very many people lived comfortably out of the closet as openly gay men and women. Gia loved woman and has been referred to by women she was close to as having the persona of a cute boy. She was tomboyish, and often appeared as so when she was not modeling. She wore punky eighties clothes, and was very casual, not what you would expect from a made up supermodel of the time. The girly things were just not something she was terribly interested in, although she liked feminine, beautiful women. I just think she didn't understand why people didn't just accept her for that. Gia was exactly who she was and lived out loud! I appreciate her for that, for being herself.

Gia did some writing in a journal chock filled with poetry and discussed her need to be understood, the painful loss of her mother, and how she wished she could have lived like the princess, the beautiful princess who had it all, just like outsiders saw her as when she posed in fashion magazines as. She was fearless, but lonely, tough, but weakened by her drug addiction, and didn't have a grip on the superficial world she lived in through work. She was not a superficial person.

Gia wasn't like other models. She showed up for her first shoot dressed tomboyish with crazy punk hair, and casual dress. She was herself, a young girl from Philly, who was working a job and earning a living, the job most girls could have only dreamed of landing. She wasn't about to live up to the glamorous model expectations except when she was working. She was discovered on the streets of New York and quickly signed by Wilhelmina Cooper, a prestigious modeling agency at the time. She referred to Wilhelmina as Willie as she was an endeared friend as well as an employer. Willie was a model in her younger years as well. The two could relate to one another.

Willie got a kick out of Gia's spirited, strong, and free nature, her young naivety, and her knack for just being herself, a kid from Philly. She found a certain charm in Gia's persona. It was really her! After all, when you are a model, you smile and look pretty for the camera, but nobody truly knows who you really are, just what you are posing to appear as.

Gia's Magazine Covers - Modeling Height


Gia was one of the many models of the eighties, but she was one of the few to be on the cover of both Vogue and Cosmopolitan. Imagine having that much prestige and power, and then losing it all to drug abuse. Its such a waste, another reason why I hate drugs.

Learn More About Gia - And See Her in Her Work & Personal Life

Gia was a complicated, beautiful, spirited, and interesting girl who was taken from the world way too soon!

Gia's Drug Abuse & Death - Sadness & Inability To Cope


In 1980, Willie Cooper, Gia's agent died of Cancer. Gia, at this point was seriously addicted to heroin. Her drug use became a downward spiral. Her use began to spin out of control to the point where she was unable to stop. Nobody wanted to work with her, and she was dropped from the fashion agency. She was signed by another, but quickly dropped. She spent time in rehab, but always went back to her addiction. Francesco Scuvello, a photographer in the fashion industry helped her get some modeling jobs, because he liked her and though she was special, but people didn't any longer wish to work with a drug addict. They had to hide her track marks in photographs and airbrush her like crazy, because she was sick, and didn't look like she used to.

When Gia died her mom was at her side. She had a closed casket funeral, because she looked so awful from the complications and issues AIDS brought. I can't even say some of the things that happened to this beautiful woman while she was dying, but let's just say it was unpleasant and death released her from this pain. AIDS was no cake walk when it first became an epidemic without proper treatment like we have today. Nobody from the fashion industry even bothered to attend. I'm unsure of whether they even knew she died. However, Francesco Scavullo sent a card and acknowledged his deep condolences to her family.

From The Movie - Gia Starring Angelina Jolie & Narration About Addiction

Gia had a tough time with her addiction after Willie's death. Willie was almost like a surrogate mother to her in the industry, someone who understood what it was like to be a young woman in the modeling industry, in a superficial fashion world. She know how Gia felt, and adored her. She was sweet and affectionate toward the girl. She mentored her, made time for her, and treated her very well. She treasured her. Gia was different. She was a tough, casual girl, a tomboy. Gia really was just a kid trying to figure out where she was going in life. Modeling was not her ambition. Willie saw something different in this girl.

Gia - The HBO Production Starring Angelina Jolie

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Gia Marie Carangi follows her life from a rebel working in her father's diner at age 17 to her death in 1986 at age 26 from AIDS, one of the first women in America whose death was attributed to the disease. In between, she followed a downward spiral of drug abuse and failed relationships. This is the IMDb description of the HBO film Gia. Its one of my favorite movies. I cry when I watch it, but Angelina, although she doesn't look like Gia, captured her spirit well. Angelina comments that this role disturbed her, because many of the parallels between Gia and Angie's life were not much different.

Gia Loved Women & Life - Gia Loved Blondes


Gia had a relationship with Sandy Linter, a make-up artist she often worked with. The two ended up taking some nude modeling photos together shot in black and white. They are absolutely gorgeous. Sandy wasn't a lesbian, but she did fall for Gia. She describes her attraction to Gia as that she might have towards a cute boy. Gia pursued her with flowers, and her sweet, unadulterated nature won Sandy over. She found her beautiful and thought it was cute the way she was trying to woo her. The relationship was rocky, because Gia has a volatile personality, and inevitably a drug addiction. Sandy cared for Gia deeply, whether it was a sexually charged love affair or just a friendship, it didn't matter. I believe a primarily straight person can have a love affair with someone of the same sex, and it does happen. It all boils down to chemistry, and when you have chemistry and in one split moment, you decide to act on that feeling, something will happen, whether you plan for it or not. The relationship didn't work out, because Gia got seriously mixed up on drugs and began to behave strangely. Gia had other girlfriends after Sandy and before Sandy, but this was the relationship that really counted, the one that weighed on Gia's mind. This was her perfect blonde girl, the one she was always looking for.

Gia Pursues Sandy Linter - Sandy is Interviewed

Gia was like Romeo seeking her Juliet. She was outrageous, but she won, didn't she!?

Angelina Jolie - Actor's Studio on Starring in Gia

Edited Part of ABC Interview - Gia is Actually High Here

Its sad, you look at this beautiful girl who is high on heroin, and still looks amazing, the way we all wish we could look. Here comes the heroin chic. Its not as glamorous in her private life. She never wore makeup off camera in her private life. She didn't need to. She was just that perfectly lovely naturally, on her own.

The Horror Gia Endured - As Observed by Friends

This beautiful girl wasted away with AIDS all because of heroin, and not feeling loved or accepted. She never found that fully. She had to be covered up, and shot at specific angles when modeling, because she had so many track marks on her arms and legs.

Candid Gia - Gia Hams It Up for The Camera

She shoots herself in black and white and talks and smokes.

Guestbook Comments

Amy (author) from New England, USA on November 10, 2020:

I think she'd probaby have fared worst in this day and age, sadly. Poor gal.

Takako Komori from Yokohama, Japan on April 13, 2020:

Very informative. Your description of Gia`s life is accurate. I`m in the midst of reading "Thing of Beauty". The impression I get of Gia is that she had a hard time forming a long term relationship with anyone. Even her realtionship with Sandy Linter ran into difficulties. She really wanted someone to protect her and that person was Willie, so it`s easy to see Gia was devastated when Willie passed away. Her own mother abandoning her had a traumatic effect on Gia, as you point out, and this in the long run led to her drug abuse.

I saw the footages of Gia you put in your hub, and I agree with the author of "Thing of Beauty", she wasn`t articulate, although she was beautiful. She mentioned in one of the footages that she thought of branching out into movies. It`s too bad she lost herself in drugs and didn`t have the chance to pursue this goal.

Rest in Peace, Gia.

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