Aida Takla-O’Reilly, a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the HFPA’s longest-serving member dating back all the way to 1956, has died. She was 90.
Takla-O’Reilly died on Sunday in Los Angeles. No cause of death was provided.
Takla-O’Reilly was an Egyptian journalist who covered the entertainment industry for publications such as Nisf El Dunia and Al-Ahram and served as president of the Golden Globes organization for four years, serving from 1994-1996 and again from 2011-2013.
“She was a great listener, never judged, and always fought for the underdog. 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,” said HFPA president Helen Hoehne, who was sponsored by Takla-O’Reilly when she applied to join the organization and with whom she maintained a special bond. “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. To the very end, she was dispensing advice and sharing her wisdom for the future of the HFPA.”
Born in North Africa in Egypt, Takla-O’Reilly moved to the United States as a student and earned her master’s degree at UCLA, later becoming a foreign correspondent covering Hollywood and eventually joining the HFPA. In that time she managed to land interviews with legends such as Laurence Olivier, Cecil B. DeMille, Rock Hudson and Agnes Moorhead and even got the chance to present an award to Nelson Mandela.
While still a teenager in Egypt, she at age 16 earned her commercial pilot’s license and was the youngest female pilot to do so in the country.
Later in her career in 1976, Takla-O’Reilly was selected to chair the Pan-African Studies Department at California State University, Los Angeles. During her tenure there, she taught as well as developed courses in literature, journalism and film studies. Takla was also honored with the Women of Vision in Film Award in 2001.
She is survived by her daughter, Dominique, and her grandchildren, Mikaela, Taylor, Arianna, Zachary and Naomi.