Aida Takla O’Reilly, the longest-serving member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association who served two times as the organization’s president, died Sunday in Los Angeles. She was 90.
Born in Egypt, she joined the HFPA in 1956 and served as president of the organization that hands out the Golden Globes in 1994-96 and in 2011-13. She covered the entertainment industry for Nisf El Dunia and El Ahram in Egypt.
After becoming Egypt’s youngest female pilot, Takla O’Reilly moved to the U.S. as a student and obtained a master’s degree from UCLA. She served as chair of the Pan-African Studies department at Cal State University, Los Angeles, teaching and developing courses in literature, journalism and film studies.
“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 Ms. Takla-O’Reilly when she applied to join the organization.
“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,” Hoehne said.
She was honored with the Women of Vision in Film Award in 2001.
Over her many years in the HFPA, she interviewed entertainment figures including Laurence Olivier, Cecil B. DeMille, Rock Hudson and Agnes Moorhead. She told reporter John Scholz in a 2014 interview, “I’ve been so lucky and privileged.”
She is survived by her daughter, Dominique, and grandchildren Mikaela, Taylor, Arianna, Zachary, and Naomi.