Journalist, Hollywood Foreign Press member also founded Youth in Film org
Maureen Dragone, a journalist and member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. whose mother, Nora Laing, was one of the founding members of the HFPA, died Feb. 8. She was 93.Dragone was the HFPA’s historian, authoring “Who Makes the Golden Globes Go Around,” an account of the org’s formation, and had recently been awarded with an honorary life membership in the HFPA. She was said to have been the only person to have been present at all 70 Globe ceremonies. Dragone interviewed hundreds of celebrities over the course of her career writing for various international newspapers and magazines. In her later years, the journalist came to the conclusion that some of the greatest actors and actresses went largely unrecognized in Hollywood because of their young age. To acknowledge their talent and achievements, she founded the Youth In Film Assn. in 1978. As president and executive director of this organization, she produced the Youth in Film Awards to honor outstanding young performers under age 21 in the fields of film, television and music. In 2000, the association became known as the Young Artists Foundation, also honoring those working in live theater and presenting the Young Artists Awards ceremony. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jodie Foster, Drew Barrymore, Diane Lane, Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson are among those who have received Young Artist awards. The org has also recognized the achievements of youth in fields such as dance, radio and standup comedy. The Young Artists Foundation also grants scholarships so young performers who are financially or physically challenged may attend performing arts schools. The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has been a prominent contributor to this cause. This year’s Young Artist Award ceremony, to be held May 5, will include a memorial tribute to Dragone. Dragone husband Mike Dragone Sr. and son Michael Dragone Jr. preceded her in death. She is survived by her partner of 25 years, Dan Kitchel; a daughter; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Donations to the Young Artists Scholarship Fund may be made to the Young Artists Foundation at 5632 Colfax Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91601.