Celebrating 25 Years of “Gia”: The Untold Tragedy of the Italian-American Model That Captivated Angelina Jolie

It’s been 25 years since the release of Angelina Jolie’s film ‘Gia’, which was based on the life of Gia Carangi, an Italian-American model who is often regarded as the first supermodel. Unfortunately, Gia’s life was tragically cut short at the age of 26 due to complications related to AIDS.

Model Gia Carangi (Photo by Laurie Sagalyn/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images); Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Liebowitz/Citadel Ent/Kobal/Shutterstock (5880251f) Angelina Jolie Gia - 1998 Citadel Ent USA Television

Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of Gia Carangi in the 1998 HBO film “Gia” marked its 25th anniversary. Carangi was a real-life supermodel who died at the age of 26 due to AIDS-related complications. Mila Kunis also appeared in the film as a young Carangi, while Faye Dunaway, Mercedes Ruehl, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Scott Cohen were among the additional cast members. Directed by Michael Cristofer and co-written by Cristofer and Jay McInerney, “Gia” follows the life of Carangi from her rise to fame in the modeling industry to her tragic death. Learn more about Carangi’s life and death by reading on. Stay updated on the latest happenings, from intriguing human-interest stories to juicy celebrity news, by signing up for PEOPLE’s daily newsletter.

Full-length portrait of American fashion model Gia Carangi (1960 - 1986) as she poses in a semi-transparant, floor-length dress, from a Vogue magazine photoshoot, late 70s or early 80s. (Photo by Andrea Blanch/Getty Images)

Angelina Jolie recently shared that her children believe her most relatable movie role is Gia Carangi, the troubled supermodel whom Jolie portrayed in the 1998 biopic “Gia.” Carangi was born into a working-class family in Philadelphia in 1960 and was discovered on a dance floor in the late 1970s. She quickly became a well-known figure at Wilhelmina Models in New York City, but her battle with addiction and substance abuse, including cocaine and heroin, overshadowed her rise to fame. Despite her success, she struggled with her sexual identity, and her relationships, including one with makeup artist Sandy Linter, were often turbulent. Linter recalled how Carangi’s addiction affected her energy and ultimately took everything from her.

Model Gia Carangi (Photo by Dustin Pittman/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images)

As per Dazed, Gia Carangi made numerous attempts to get clean and even went to rehab, but her efforts remained futile. She was diagnosed with AIDS in December 1985 and succumbed to related complications in November the following year. According to Linter, her last encounter with Carangi was in 1983 or 1984 when the model appeared at her doorstep. They sat together, and Carangi rested her head on Linter’s shoulder and cried. Linter found out about Carangi’s AIDS diagnosis later and never saw her again. Despite her tragic death over three decades ago, Gia still holds a special place in the hearts of her fans, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 93% and an Audience Score of 82%. While working on the movie, Jolie initially despised Carangi due to a negative interview she had seen. However, during her research, Jolie had a change of heart, even stating that she would have liked to date the model and be her lover.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Larry Watson/Citadel Ent/Kobal/Shutterstock (5880251l) Elizabeth Mitchell, Angelina Jolie, Mercedes Ruehl Gia - 1998 Citadel Ent USA Television

Charlize Theron is making significant strides in the fight against AIDS, according to reports. In addition, the actress revealed that she learned important lessons while playing the role of Gia in the film of the same name. She recognized the importance of not placing too much emphasis on physical appearance and the need to avoid seeking validation from others. Jolie, who won an Oscar for her performance in Girl, Interrupted, hoped that viewers would identify with Gia as a regular person with their own pain and desire for love.

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