Yani Begakis, a veteran LA-based film journalist and longtime member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), has died in Los Angeles at the age of 81.

An enormously popular and well-respected man, Begakis was a fixture in Hollywood with a deep love - and intensive knowledge - of movies as well as a legendary sense of humour. He was an active journalist right up to his final illness.

Begakis was born to Greek parents in Istanbul (then Constantinople) in 1926. While going to school, he worked at the local movie theatre where he learned English by watching American films.

His life changed when he got a job organizing a press junket for the opening of the Istanbul Hilton where he met two fellow Greeks - legendary film director Elia Kazan and then president of 20th Century Fox Spyros Skouras. Later, Begakis began writing for a local newspaper through which he met Hollywood journalists Hedda Hopper and John Cameron Swayze as well as Louella Parsons and Cole Porter.

Skouras, impressed with Begakis' writing, invited him to Hollywood where he worked at Fox. Skouras also helped Begakis with his immigrant status as a permanent resident of the US. While at the studio, he began writing for a Greek newspaper and then began a long association with Japanese magazine SCREEN.

He was a member of the HFPA for 48 years and was elected president on five separate occasions.

Begakis is survived by his sister, Kleo Lee, his nephew Alex Kazanegras, first cousin Danae Dame, nephews Nick Begakis, and Mike Begakis, and their families. Services will be held at Saint Sophia's Cathedral in Los Angeles at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 19.

Donations can be made to the Hellenic Society, 936 N. Crescent Heights Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90046, USA.