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Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trivia (12)

Overview (3)

Born in Denver, Colorado, USA
Died in Upland, California, USA
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Hyla was born in 1950 and became an accomplished gymnast and dancer, leading to a long career as a stunt woman and actress in over 80 films. She was also a successful day-trader and a passionate cat-lover who created a Trust that since her death in 2016 has benefited over 60 organizations in Southern California that help homeless cats find medical care and forever homes.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Stace Aspey ~ Long Beach Spay & Neuter

Trivia (12)

Because she was the same weight and height as Mia Farrow, Hyla became the stunt double for Mia in her movies with Woody Allen. In her March 1983 interview for Oui Magazine Hyla recalled that Broadway Danny Rose (1984) required the most pratfalls and that when she was dressed like Mia for a role, Woody could only tell them apart by comparing their breasts. Hyla's were bigger.
In the Brian De Palma thriller Blow Out (1981), Hyla tumbled down a 118' cliff with John Lithgow throttling her neck the whole way. The role required Hyla to "die" mid-fall with her lifeless limbs flying in all directions. Hyla recalled that when she hit the ground the crew rushed over thinking she had broken her legs. She hadn't, and De Palma shot the scene two more times.
Hyla's first film stunt was in Deadly Hero (1975) where she had to dodge a speeding car by leaping over its hood just before the car crashed into a newsstand and flipped over. The risky shot had to be done in a single take. A still-photo of that stunt was widely published in the media with one article calling Hyla the most gutsy stunt woman in the world.
Hyla's biggest film stunt was the ratchet pull in Vigilante (1982). She explained it in her 1983 Oui Magazine interview as a pneumatic air cylinder strapped to her torso that used 1,200 pounds of pressure to jerk her back violently, simulating being shot at point blank and thrown backwards into a bathtub. When asked how risky the stunt was Hyla said it was dying from severe whiplash.
Hyla's stunt work has involved getting hit in the face, being stabbed and strangled, falling down a cliff, and getting knocked down by a speeding car. She said she had no fear of working with snakes or a bathtub full of spiders, but would do no stunt involving fire. Her biggest phobia was heights, yet years of stunt work cured it and jumping became one of the things she enjoyed most.
Hyla's film stunts involved so many spills, tumbles, and dives that she earned the nickname Fall Girl. She claimed to never have gotten injured and in 1983 wrote a newspaper article giving readers tips on how to fall without getting hurt. The most important thing was to relax and give in to the fall, allowing the body to adjust to the impact. According to Hyla this was the reason children and drunks often fall and don't injure themselves.
When Hyla started doing film stunts she was one of only three women in the Professional Stuntmen's Association and was aware that the occupation was not considered especially lady-like. In 1983 Hyla did a pictorial in Oui Magazine and in the accompanying interview said she wanted to make a statement to other women who might want to enter the profession and hoped the photos would prove it was possible to be a stunt woman and still be feminine.
In her 1983 Oui Magazine interview Hyla acknowledged attracting the attention of famous men the film industry and considered both Burt Reynolds and Ryan O'Neal to be stunt women groupies. Gossip columnist Liz Smith spotted Hyla at a nightclub accompanied by veteran film producer Sam Spiegel. According to Liz, Sam was promising Hyla a role in his next film to make amends for all of Hyla's scenes in his recent film The Last Tycoon (1976) ending up on the cutting room floor.
An accomplished dancer and gymnast, Hyla moved to New York at age 19 with an eye on an acting career. She landed a small part in The Godfather (1972) then did another twelve films in two weeks. Her athleticism did not go unnoticed and Hyla was offered her first job as a stunt woman in Deadly Hero (1975). She was one of the few actresses who also did their own stunts and by 1981 had eighty films to her credit.
In the comedy So Fine (1981) Hyla got the rare chance to perform as more than one character. She doubled for Mariangela Melato and in one scene only had to lounge on a bed while a man swung over her on a rope. She also played a nun who got knocked to the floor by Ryan O'Neal in a stunt that required nine takes. Hyla acknowledged that stunt women got paid very well and earned a fee nine times for that stunt, with something extra added for each additional take.
Hyla has a sister who is a composer, and her uncle was the famous playwright Dale Wasserman who had two of his successful stage plays turned into movies: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and the musical Man of La Mancha (1972).
Later in life Hyla became a day-trader and her 2016 death certificate lists her occupation simply as Investor, with no clue to her past as a stunt woman who was once called Hollywood's most sensational female daredevil. Hyla was also a cat-lover and her success with investments allowed her to set up a Trust that since her death has given financial aid to over sixty cat-rescue groups.

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