LOS ANGELES – A much beloved and respected professional, public relations and marketing communications veteran Maria LaMagra passed away on August 7 of cancer in Sherman Oaks, CA. She was 66.
LaMagra was a creative presence of the utmost character who served in management and consultant positions at Universal, Disney, Fox, Sony, and Paramount. Her 30-year career in the entertainment industry encompassed managing home entertainment campaigns and corporate communications, international film festivals, talent publicity representation and satellite news development.
LaMagra was passionately involved in industry charities and was a founding member of the Entertainment AIDS Alliance (formerly VIAAC, the Video Industry AIDS Action Committee), serving continuously on their Board of Directors for nearly 20 years. In 2002 she received the VIAAC Visionary Award in recognition of her dedicated contributions to raising financial and key executive support within the entertainment industry for the organization’s mission to generate funding for AIDS service providers .
“I am proud to be a part of an industry that so readily supports such important organizations – a business where it’s not just about the bottom line but also about caring,” she said.
The proprietor of MLM Public Relations since 2003, LaMagra consulted for the Walt Disney Studios home entertainment unit on a variety of projects and branded lines, among other clients, and also worked with Nadia Bronson & Associates. She represented a diverse list of clients including Fox Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and Paramount Home Video in various communications, publicity and marketing capacities.
From 1991 to 2002, LaMagra oversaw publicity campaigns and public relations activities for Universal’s home entertainment division, initially as Director, Publicity for MCA Home Video, and in 1992 as Vice-President, Publicity for such major campaigns as “Jurassic Park,” “Schindler’s List,” “Apollo 13,” “Babe,” “Happy Gilmore,” “American Pie,” “The Grinch” and “The Land Before Time” franchise. One of her most memorable publicity successes was persuading Burbank city officials to declare “Babe Day in Burbank” with a farm in a downtown parking lot to mark the Oscar nominee’s home video debut just a week prior to the awards telecast in April 1996. The mobbed event garnered tremendous national and international press coverage. LaMagra also supervised the publicity launch for the studio’s introduction of the industry changing DVD format in 1997.
Prior to joining Universal, LaMagra served as Director, then Vice-President of theatrical and home video publicity at Trimark Entertainment (formerly Vidmark Entertainment) starting in 1989. She was also a Director at Edelman Public Relations in the consumer products division, joining in 1987. LaMagra began her career in home entertainment as a freelance publicist at Embassy Home Entertainment (later Nelson Entertainment) in 1984, supervising publicity campaigns later as Director of Publicity and Public Relations for such titles as “The Cotton Club,” “The Graduate,” “The Princess Bride,” “The Last Emperor,” “Victory at Sea,” and the Samuel Goldwyn and Janus Film libraries.
LaMagra also represented her close friends Dee Wallace and the late Dixie Carter, among others, as an independent publicist.
A native of Plainfield, NJ, LaMagra grew up in the Bronx and moved to Los Angeles with her family when she was a teenager. She was a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles with Bachelor degrees in journalism and political science. LaMagra is survived by her brother Jeff LaMagra and daughters Robin Cloward and Alexandra Chamberlain from her previous marriage to the late Rob Maynor, their spouses and four grandchildren. The Center for Spiritual Living will hold a Celebration of Maria LaMagra’s Life on September 11 at Noon at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood, CA. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the Entertainment AIDS Alliance.