Gila Almagor (birth name: Aviya Alexandrowitz) was born four months after the death of her father, Max Alexandrowitz, a Jewish immigrant from Germany who was killed by an Arab sniper while working as a policeman in Haifa. Almagor grew up caring for her mother, Henya, who was slowly losing her sanity after realising that all her family in Germany had perished in the Holocaust. When her mother was institutionalized in 1954, Almagor was sent to Hadassim youth village. Two years later, she moved to Tel Aviv, rented a room near Habima Theatre and applied to acting school. Although she was underage, she was accepted. At the age of 17, Almagor debuted in Habima's production of The Skin of Our Teeth. Her autobiographical books Summer of Aviya and Under the Domim Tree were both made into films, with Almagor playing her own mother. She is married to Yaakov Agmon, former director of the Habima Theatre. They have two children.
Almagor has played leading roles in many plays, among them "Anne Frank", "Jeanne d'Arc", "The Crucible", "Three Sisters", "The Bride and the Butterfly Hunt", "They Were All My Children" and "Medea". She has appeared in over 40 films, including "Siege", "Queen of the Road", "The House on Chelouche Street", "El Dorado", "Life According to Agfa" and "The Summer of Aviya."
Almagor starred as the mother of Avner, the main character in the 2005 film Munich. She also appears in The Debt, about a former Mossad agent who comes back to kill an escaped Nazi doctor. In 2008 she played the role of Lolah Baum in the 100-episode serial Dani Hollywood, broadcast on the Yes satellite network. In 2005, Almagor played a therapist in the award-winning Israeli television series BeTipul.
Almagor has received 10 Kinor David awards for her work in film and theater.
She received the Life Achievement Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 1996, a Life Achievement Award from the Israeli Academy of Cinema in 1997, and the Silver Bear award for best actress in Summer of Aviya at the Berlin Film Festival.
In 1990, she was chosen Actress of the Decade by Yediot Ahronoth and the Israel Film Institute.
In 2004, she was awarded the Israel Prize, for cinema.
In 2005, she received a Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadorship.
In 2007, she was awarded the Liberitas Film Festival Prize for Lifetime Achievement (Croatia).
In 2009, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Tel Aviv University awarded her an honorary doctorate.