Damien Bona, co-author of “Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards,” died in New York on Jan. 29, two weeks after a heart attack. He was 56.
Bona, who had been an attorney but was long obsessed with the Academy Awards, penned the voluminous reference work with Mason Wiley; it was published in 1986, and Bona worked alone on the follow-up, issued in 2002, after Wiley’s death in 1994.
He was interested not only in who won the Oscars but in the history of the ceremony, side stories and controversies.
In addition to his books on the Academy Awards, Bona also wrote “Opening Shots: The Unusual, Unexpected, Potentially Career Threatening First Roles That Launched the Careers of 70 Hollywood Stars” (1994) and “Starring John Wayne as Genghis Kahn: Hollywood’s All-Time Worst Casting Blunders” (1996).
Bona served as a consultant to Bill Condon when the latter co-produced the 2009 edition of the Oscars.
Bona grew up in New Milford, Conn., and earned degrees from Columbia U., where he was film critic on the school paper, and NYU Law School but practiced as an attorney for only two years in the early 1980s, after which he moved from New York to the Los Angeles area, home of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences.
He is survived by his longtime companion, Ralph Pena; his mother; and a sister.