Public Relations Executive Maria LaMagra Dies at 66
Public relations and marketing executive Maria LaMagra died of cancer in Sherman Oaks on Aug. 7. She was 66.
During her 30-year career in the entertainment industry, she managed home entertainment campaigns and corporate communications, international film festivals, talent publicity representation and satellite news development.
One of her most memorable publicity successes was persuading Burbank city officials to declare “Babe Day in Burbank,” marked by a farm which was set up in a downtown parking lot to mark the video debut of Babe, the Academy Award nominated film, just a week prior to the Oscar show telecast in April, 1996. The mobbed event drew national and international press coverage.
LaMagra, who headed her own firm MLM Public Relations since 2003, consulted for Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and also worked with Nadia Bronson & Associates. She also represented such other clients as Fox Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment.
A founding member of the Entertainment AIDS Alliance (formerly VIAAC, the Video Industry AIDS Action Committee), she served continuously on its board of directors for nearly 20 years. In 2002, she received the VIAAC Visionary Award in recognition of her contributions to raising financial and executive support within the entertainment industry for the organization’s mission to generate funding for AIDS service providers .
Prior to opening her own firm, from 1991 to 2002, LaMagra oversaw publicity campaigns for Universal’s home entertainment division, where she began as director, publicity for MCA Home Video, becoming vice president in 1992. She was involved in the campaigns for such films as Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Apollo 13, Happy Gilmore, American Pie, The Grinch and The Land Before Time franchise. In 1997, she supervised the publicity launch of the studio’s introduction of the DVD format.
Before joining Universal, LaMagra was first director and then vice president of theatrical and home video publicity at Trimark Entertainment. Earlier in her career, she was a director at Edelman Public Relations in its consumer products division, which she joined in 1987. She began her career in home entertainment as a freelance publicist at Embassy Home Entertainment in 1984.
LaMagra also represented her close friends Dee Wallace and the late Dixie Carter, among others, as an independent publicist.
A native of Plainfield, N.J., LaMagra grew up in the Bronx and moved to Los Angeles with her family when she was a teenager and went on to graduate from UCLA.
She is survived by her brother Jeff LaMagra and her daughters Robin Cloward and Alexandra Chamberlain from her previous marriage to the late Rob Maynor, along with their spouses and four grandchildren.
The Center for Spiritual Living will hold a celebration of her life on Sept. 11 at 12 p.m. at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the Entertainment AIDS Alliance.