Pia Zadora

Pia Zadora

Birth name: Pia Alfreda Schipani
Born: May 4, 1953
Age: 71
Birthplace: Hoboken, New Jersey, United States
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Pia Zadora (born May 4, 1953) is an American actress and singer. After working as a child actress on Broadway, in regional theater, and in the film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), she came to national attention in 1981 when, following her starring role in the highly criticized Butterfly, she won a Golden Globe Award as New Star of the Year and the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress.

When her film career failed to take off, she became a singer of popular standards and made several successful albums backed by a symphonic orchestra; as a singer, she earned a measure of respect from critics who had previously written her off as an actress.


Early life

Zadora was born Pia Alfreda Schipani in Hoboken, New Jersey. Her mother, Saturnina "Nina" (née Zadorowski), was a theatrical wardrobe supervisor for Broadway productions, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Opera, and her father, Alphonse Schipani, a violinist. She is of Polish maternal and Italian paternal descent. She adapted part of her mother's maiden name as her stage name. Zadora appeared as a child actress with Tallulah Bankhead in Midgie Purvis. She played the youngest sister (Bielke) in the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof (1964-1966).



Zadora's first film was in 1964's widely panned Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, as Girmar, a young Martian girl. She also sang Hooray for Santy Claus in that movie, which has become a fan favorite since its 1991 appearance on the movie-mocking TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Her career made little headway until she met Meshulam Riklis, 32 years her senior, in 1972, while touring with a musical production. The couple married on 18 September 1977. Not long after her marriage, she made her breakthrough as the Dubonnet Girl, appearing in print and television commercials for the apéritif wine, in whose American distributor Riklis was a shareholder.

Zadora starred alongside Stacy Keach and Orson Welles in the 1982 film version of James M. Cain's novel Butterfly, whose plot revolved around father-daughter incest. Her character, Kady Tyler, was described as being the daughter of Keach's character of Jesse Tyler. The musical score featured Zadora singing "It’s Wrong For Me To Love You." She won that year's Golden Globe Award as "Best New Star of the Year", amid charges that her husband had bought the award with a promotional campaign. Zadora's image filled billboards on Sunset Boulevard. Most critics panned her performance, however; she was also "awarded" "Razzies" as "Worst New Star" and "Worst Actress" in the 1982 Golden Raspberry Awards.

Zadora next starred in the 1982 film Fake-Out, also called Nevada Heat, a women in prison B-movie comedy co-starring Telly Savalas and Desi Arnaz Jr., and in the 1983 film adaptation of a Harold Robbins novel, The Lonely Lady, playing an aspiring screenwriter who achieves success after surviving sexual assault. She was "awarded" another Razzie as Worst Actress of 1983. On the basis of her multiple "awards", the Golden Raspberry Awards later named her Worst New Star of the Decade (1980-1989).

In 1985 Zadora starred as the object of an extraterrestrial's affections in the musical-comedy Voyage of the Rock Aliens. In addition to showing off her comedic side, the film showcased her musical talents and featured half of the songs from her 1984 album Let's Dance Tonight.

In 1988, she appeared as a beatnik in John Waters's film Hairspray, which also starred Ricki Lake.


Though Zadora had drawn critics' hostility as an actress, she attained success in Europe as a singer, and had several hit singles throughout the world. In 1985, she received a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the song "Rock It Out" but lost to Tina Turner's "Better Be Good To Me." Her cover of the Shirley Ellis hit "The Clapping Song", which was recorded for the film score of The Lonely Lady, reached the U.S. Top 40 in 1983, and she had a hit duet with Jermaine Jackson titled "When the Rain Begins to Fall" in 1984 from the movie Voyage of the Rock Aliens. A minor hit in the United States, the song reached No. 1 in some European countries.

It was another prominent native of Hoboken, Frank Sinatra, who, taking Zadora under his wing in the middle 1980s, encouraged her to record albums consisting primarily of standards. She released Pia & Phil, an album of standards with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1985, and recorded a follow-up album titled I Am What I Am shortly after.

In 1988, she worked with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on an album entitled When the Lights Go Out. The single "Dance Out of My Head" did not chart despite the top producers and club remixes by Shep Pettibone and Ben Liebrand. The album was released only in Europe. In 1989 she recorded the album Pia Z with producer Narada Michael Walden; this also did not chart. The single "Heartbeat of Love" included club remixes by Robert Civillés and David Cole of C + C Music Factory. A further album of standards entitled Pia Today! was recorded; this received a limited promotional release.

Later in 1994, Zadora played a small role in Naked Gun 331⁄3: The Final Insult, in the final act in a comedy sketch as she sang at the Oscars. In this segment, she performed the Steve Allen-penned "This Could Be the Start of Something Big" during a parody of an Academy Awards musical number.

A compilation, The Platinum Collection, was released at this approximate time and sold via "infomercials" in the US. It included repackaged versions of Pia & Phil, I Am What I Am, and Pia Today! Another CD of standards, Only for Romantics, was also recorded, but as May 2012 came to a close, it was scarce and only promotional copies were available.

Cabaret show: 2011 and beyond

In 2011, Zadora began a small attempt at a comeback with a cabaret show titled Pia Zadora: Back Again, And Standing Tall. In February, she performed at the Eissey Campus Theatre in Palm Beach Gardens and the Kaye Auditorium in Boca Raton. She took the show to The Rrazz Room in San Francisco on June 8 where it ran for five performances until June 12. Zadora appeared at San Francisco's Rrazz Room's 3rd annual Rrazziversary Gala Celebration and Benefit for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on March 17, 2011 and at the Nevada Children's Center's Great Gatsby Gala on April 3, 2011.

In 2012, she also performed with the Desert Symphony Orchestra at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California and appeared on the TV show Celebrity Ghost Stories.

Personal life

Zadora married businessman Meshulam Riklis in 1977, when she was 23 and he 54. Ms. Zadora was a second rate marquee headliner at the Rivera Hotel in Las Vegas during the early 1970s due to her association with Riklis & Sinatra. Zadora and Riklis bought the Beverly Hills mansion Pickfair Manor in January 1988 from Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss for almost $7 million. They demolished most of the structure while keeping the guest houses, claiming that termites and time had made repairs difficult. The mansion, which drew its name of "Pickfair" from having once been the shared home of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, was torn down and a new 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) mansion was built on the property. Zadora later claimed on a September 2012 episode of BIO's Celebrity Ghost Stories that Pickfair was razed due to a troubling apparition which appeared to her and children when her husband was away on business. Riklis commissioned a nude oil portrait of Zadora, which greeted visitors; the painter of this portrait remained unknown as of early August 2012.

Zadora and Riklis divorced in 1993, and Zadora remained in the mansion until late 2005 or early 2006, when she sold it to Korean businessman Corry Hong for $17,650,000.

Zadora's second husband was writer-director Jonathan Kaufer. They were married from August 1995 to November 2001, and had one child, Jordan Maxwell Kaufer. Zadora's three children are Kady Zadora, Kristofer Barzie, and Jordan Maxwell; Kady and Kristofer are her children with Meshulam Riklis. Kady was named after Zadora's film character in Butterfly, which later inspired the call letters for station KADY-TV in Oxnard, California after Riklis acquired it in 1988. After he divested himself of his ownership, it changed its call letters to KBEH.

Zadora has been married to Michael Jeffries, a detective with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, since 2005 and currently resides in Summerlin, Nevada. Zadora and Jeffries met after Zadora contacted the Las Vegas Police to report a stalking incident.



Year Title Role Notes
1964 Santa Claus Conquers the Martians Girmar
1982 Butterfly Kady Tyler
1982 Fake-Out Bobbie Warren also known as Nevada Heat
1983 The Lonely Lady Jerilee Randall
1984 Voyage of the Rock Aliens Dee Dee
1985 Feel the Motion Herself
1988 Hairspray Beatnik Chick
1989 Troop Beverly Hills Herself
1994 Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult Herself


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Pajama Tops Babette Latouche TV Movie
1990 Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme Little Miss Muffet TV Movie
1995 Favorite Deadly Sins Herself TV Movie
1999 Frasier Jill 1 episode (voice only)


  • The Garden of Sweets (1961)
  • Midgie Purvis (1961)
  • A Gift of Time (1962)
  • We Take the Town (1962)
  • Fiddler on the Roof (1965)
  • Henry, Sweet Henry (1967)
  • Dames at Sea (1968)
  • Little Mary Sunshine (1970)
  • Applause (1972)
  • Promises, Promises (1973)
  • Damn Yankees (1976)
  • Funny Girl (1991)
  • Crazy for You (1995)



  • 1982: Pia
  • 1984: Let's Dance Tonight
  • 1985: Pia & Phil
  • 1986: I Am What I Am
  • 1988: When the Lights Go Out
  • 1989: Pia Z
  • 1989: Pia Today! (promo only until it was issued as part of The Platinum Collection)
  • 1993: Only for Romantics (promo only)
  • 1993: The Platinum Collection (included Pia & Phil, I Am What I Am, and Pia Today!)
Pia track listing
No. Title Length
1. "I'm In Love Again" 3:55
2. "Never Gonna Do You Wrong" 3:23
3. "Say Yes" 4:23
4. "You Can't Keep A Good Love Down" 3:29
5. "Baby It's You" 3:59
6. "Love Who You Love" 2:49
7. "Somebody Somewhere" 3:43
8. "Those Eyes" 2:44
9. "It's Wrong For Me To Love You " 3:40
10. "How'd You Get Me This Way" 3:30


Year Single Peak chart positions
US US Country UK Germany
1978 "Come Share My Love"
1979 "Bedtime Stories" 76
"Tell Him"A 98
"I Know a Good Thing When I Feel It" 65
1980 "Baby It's You" 55
1982 "I'm in Love Again" 45
1983 "The Clapping Song" 36
1984 "When the Rain Begins to Fall" 54 68 1
"Follow My Heartbeat"B
"Let's Dance Tonight" 11
"Little Bit of Heaven" 10
"Rock It Out" 110
1985 "Come Rain, Come Shine"
1986 "I Am What I Am"
1988 "Dance Out of My Head" 65
1989 "Heartbeat of Love"
"If You Were Mine"
  • AB-side to "Bedtime Stories"
  • BB-side to "When the Rain Begins to Fall"

Awards and nominations

Golden Globe Awards

  • Won: New Star of the Year, Butterfly (1981)

Golden Raspberry Awards

  • Won: Worst New Star, Butterfly (1983)
  • Won: Worst Actress, The Lonely Lady (1984)
  • Won: Worst New Star of the Decade, Butterfly and The Lonely Lady (1990)
  • Nominated: Worst Actress of the Decade, Butterfly and The Lonely Lady (1990)
  • Nominated: Worst Actress of the Century, Voyage of the Rock Aliens, Butterfly, and The Lonely Lady (2000)

Golden Apple Award

  • Won: Sour Apple (1982)

Grammy Awards

  • Nominated: Best Rock Vocal Performance Female, for "Rock It Out" (1985)

ShoWest Award

  • Won: Young Star of the Year (1982)

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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