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Today is:
The Life and Death of Gia Carangi
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Editor's Note: This Philly born and raised model is considered the first supermodel. Enjoy.

Gia Marie Carangi (January 29, 1960, Philadelphia, PA – November 18, 1986, Philadelphia, PA) was an American fashion model during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Carangi, who was of Italian, Welsh and Irish ancestry, was widely considered the first "Supermodel".[1] Cindy Crawford, who also appeared on the covers of several fashion publications during Gia's time, was later referred to as "Baby Gia", due to her resemblance to Gia.[2] Carangi was also the first to present unusual poses, facial expressions and gestures. She is credited by many at the upper echelons of fashion to have created a new style of modeling, emulated by models since then to the present.

Carangi was featured on the cover of many fashion magazines, including Vogue, April 1, 1979; Vogue Paris, April 1979; American Vogue, August 1980; Vogue Paris, August 1980; Italian Vogue, January 1981; and several issues of Cosmopolitan between 1979 and 1982.

After becoming addicted to drugs, Carangi's modeling career rapidly declined. She later became infected with HIV and died in Philadelphia. Her death was not widely publicized and few people in the fashion industry knew of it. Carangi is thought to be one of the first famous women to die of AIDS.

Carangi, who was known in modeling circles just by her first name, had a turbulent childhood. Her parents fought frequently, and she was given little attention.

Carangi moved from Philadelphia to New York City at the age of 17, and quickly rose to prominence. She was the favorite model of many eminent fashion photographers, including Francesco Scavullo, Arthur Elgort, Richard Avedon, and Chris von Wangenheim, and she posed for photos in many countries. By the end of 1978, Carangi was already a well-established model. Carangi did modeling for these designer and cosmetic firms: Body Basics, Christian Dior, Cutex, Diane von Fürstenberg, Giorgio Armani, Lancetti, Levi's, Maybelline, Perry Ellis, Versace, Vidal Sassoon and Yves Saint Laurent

Carangi was a regular at Studio 54 and the Mudd Club. Carangi usually only used cocaine in clubs but later began to develop a heroin addiction.

In October 1978, Carangi did her first major shoot with top fashion photographer Chris von Wangenheim. Wangenheim had her pose nude behind a chain-link fence with makeup assistant Sandy Linter. Carangi immediately became infatuated with Linter and started to pursue her, though the relationship never became stable., Carangi's agent, Wilhelmina Cooper, died of lung cancer. Devastated, Carangi started abusing drugs. Scavullo recalled a fashion shoot in the Caribbean when "She was crying, she couldn't find her drugs. I literally had to lay her down on her bed until she fell asleep."

By 1980, Carangi began having violent temper tantrums, walking out of photo shoots, and even falling asleep in front of the camera. In the November 1980 issue of Vogue, Carangi's track marks from heroin can be easily seen. For three weeks, she was signed with Eileen Ford, who soon dropped her.

In 1981, Carangi enrolled in a 21-day detox program, and started dating a college student, Elyssa Golden. The Carangi family, along with her mother, had suspected that Golden had a drug problem. Carangi soon began using again. She moved out of her mother's house and in with some friends, once again entering a detox program.

Her attempt to quit drugs was shattered when news that good friend and fashion photographer Chris von Wangenheim had died in a car accident. It is said[weasel words] that Carangi locked herself in a bathroom for hours, shooting heroin. In the fall of 1981, she looked far different from the top model she once had been. However, she was still determined to make a comeback in the fashion industry. She contacted Monique Pillard (who was largely responsible for Janice Dickinson's career), who was hesitant to sign her.

For her second time, Carangi received the harsh treatment she skipped last time. Nobody would book her. Desperate, she turned to Scavullo. She landed a Cosmopolitan cover, a gift from Scavullo. Shot in the winter of 1982, it would be her last cover.

In West Germany, a budding fashion industry was being created. Although seen as tacky by the designers from New York, Paris and Milan, the Germans were willing to pay 10,000 marks a week to shoot Carangi abroad. However, no one in the States would book her. In the spring of 1983, she was caught with drugs in a shoot in Africa. Her career was over.

After pressure from her family she entered a drug-rehabilitation program again at Eagleville Hospital. After six months, she was released from the program and moved back to Philadelphia, where she seemed to be getting her life back on track. She started taking classes in photography and cinematography. But, three months later, she had vanished once again, and had returned to Atlantic City, and started shooting heroin again. She slept with men for money and was raped on several occasions. She soon became sick with pneumonia, and her mother came and checked her into a hospital in Norristown, Pennyslvania.

Carangi was diagnosed with AIDS, then a newly recognized disease. As her condition worsened, she was transferred to Philadelphia's Hahnemann University Hospital. Her mother stayed with her day and night, allowing virtually no visitors.

Gia looked through the camera

On November 18, 1986 at 10 a.m., 26-year-old Gia Carangi died.

Her funeral was held on November 21 at a small funeral home in Philadelphia. Nobody from the fashion world attended. However, weeks later, Scavullo sent a Mass card when he heard the news.

A biography of Carangi by Stephen Fried called Thing of Beauty was published in 1993. A biographical film, Gia, debuted on HBO in 1998. Angelina Jolie starred in the title role.

In 1996, actress-screenwriter Zoë Tamerlis, herself a heroin addict who died of drug-related causes in 1999, was commissioned to write a screenplay based upon Carangi's life. This version of Gia was not produced, but after Tamerlis' death, footage of her, photographers, Carangi's family, and Sandy Linter discussing her life was incorporated into a documentary entitled The Self-Destruction of Gia.

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Gia on Cosmopolitan Cover

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