Aida Takla-O’Reilly, the Egyptian journalist who was president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association twice and was its longest-serving member, died Sunday in Los Angeles. The HFPA did not disclose her age or cause of death.
Takla-O’Reilly joined the group behind the Golden Globes in 1956 and was elected as its president in 1994. She would serve another two-year term in the office from 2011-13. She covered the entertainment industry for Egyptian magazine Nisf El Dunia and daily newspaper El Ahram.
“She was a great listener, never judged, and always fought for the underdog,” said HFPA President Helen Hoehne, who was sponsored by Takla-O’Reilly when she applied to join the organization and maintained a special bond with her. “She was fearless and inspired others to be fearless – and to become leaders. She had a fierce and deep loyalty to her friends and the people she loved.”
Born in Cairo, she became Egypt’s youngest female commercial pilot at 16 and went on to earn a master’s degree at UCLA and a doctorate from Sorbonne University in Paris. Takla-O’Reilly was chair of the Pan-African Studies Department at California State University, Los Angeles, from 1976-79 and again from 1989-98. During her CSULA tenure, she taught and developed courses in literature, journalism and film studies.
She received the Women of Vision in Film Award in 2001.
In 2018, Takla-O’Reilly authored a controversial celebrity profile for Egypt Air’s in-flight magazine about then-Santa Clarita Diet star Drew Barrymore. With mistakes of grammar and fact, the acrticle went viral because of its unintentional humor and seeming lost-in-translation style. Takla-O’Reilly defended the story in a series of tweets, and the HFPA said days later: “Based on our preliminary investigation, we understand that parts of the article in question were not written by Dr. Takla-O’Reilly and that other portions of the article may have come from other sources.”
Takla-O’Reilly said in a 2014 interview that she considered herself “fortunate” to have met and had private sit-downs with the likes of Laurence Olivier, Cecil B. DeMille, Rock Hudson and Agnes Moorhead. “I’ve been so lucky and privileged,” she told interviewer John Scholz.
“I owe Aida a great debt of gratitude for all her support and love over the years – and the HFPA owes much to her tough-as-nails defense of the Association, our work and our members,” Hoehne added. “To the very end, she was dispensing advice and sharing her wisdom for the future of the HFPA.”
Takla-O’Reilly is survived by her daughter, Dominique, and grandchildren Mikaela, Taylor, Arianna, Zachary, and Naomi.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.