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Fairfield County Theatre Leader Dies At 93

Betty Jean Pia Photo Credit: Contributed photo
Betty Jean Pia Photo Credit: Contributed photo

Betty Jean Pia of Norwalk, part of the founding artistic team for the Sterling Barn Theatre in Stamford, has died at age 93.

For more than 60 years, Pia was an active part of the Fairfield County arts scene, having worked with professional and community theatres alike.

In the late 1950s she and husband, the late Albert Pia, were part of the producing team that operated the Stamford Playhouse with TV star, Telly Savalas.

The bulk of her artistry was seen as an actor, director, and photographer in her role as associate artistic director of the Sterling Barn Theatre (now Kweskin Theatre) beginning in 1972.

Pia continued to perform at the Sterling farms Theatre complex with Curtain Call through her final performance there in December 2012.

With husband Albert, she formed The American Theatre of Munich, Germany, and staged great American classic plays in English, such as “Our Town,” “A View From The Bridge” and others.

While primarily a stage actress, Pia's film appearances include The Toxic Avenger, Stuck on You!, and The First Turn-On! She was also a regular participant as a photographer, painter, and model at the Silvermine Art Center.

"Betty was one of a kind. It may sound trite, but she really was unique. A tough teacher and director but with a heart of gold," said Lou Ursone, Executive Director of Curtain Call.

"I had the great pleasure of being directed by Betty, but also playing with her on stage," Ursone added. Ursone lauded her photographic and painting skills as well.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 15, 1926, Betty died June 30, 2019. She was predeceased by her parents, Joseph Spiezio and Elizabeth Paranay Spiezio, her beloved grandmother,

Mary Tobias Paranay Kosa, sister Rose Marie Orpilla, former husband Albert L. Gallo, stepdaughter Claudia Clark and husband, Albert J. Pia. Pia is survived by brother Joseph S. Spiezio of Melrose Park, Illinois, and daughters Diane L. Liberatore and Barbara J, Gallo, both of Norwalk; stepson Clifford Pia and his wife, Cheryl, of San Diego, California.

She is also survived by grandchildren James P.W. Davis, III, John A. Liberatore and his wife, Maria, Anthony A. Liberatore and his wife, Christianne, as well as great-grandchildren Peter Berkey, Sequoia T. Davis, Oakley S. Davis, Hayley R. Liberatore and John Liberatore; step-grandchildren Calvin Hunting Pia, Cayce Dillon Pia and his wife, Laura Grace, Skyler Branding Pia, and step great-grandchild, Satori Grace Pia.

A celebration of Betty’s life will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 1 p.m., in the Kweskin Theatre, 1349 Newfield Avenue, Stamford. Anyone wishing to speak is asked to write .

Those wishing to make a tax-deductible contribution in Pia's honor may do so to Curtain Call, Inc., 1349 Newfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06905.

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