Longtime HFPA member Avik Gilboa, teacher, a Hollywood correspondent and a uniquely charming man of the world, died in Los Angeles on May 19, 2014, at age 85, surrounded by family and friends, following more than a year of failing health. Avik was born of Russian-Polish heritage in Palestine and attended an agricultural boarding school where he was a shepherd. He came to Los Angeles as a teenager, when his father remarried and emigrated. in 1947. A year later he joined a group of American volunteers who went by boat to fight with the Israeli army, but the boat was captured and he spent the war in prison in Lebanon. In a typical Avik fashion, he saw this as a positive event – he got to improve his Arabic, and as a page from an improbable Hollywood script, it turned out that his jailor was the Arab shepherd with whom he had grazing rights disputes in the hills near his former boarding school.
He returned to his beloved Hollywood where he lived the rest of his life. He started working as a bicycle messenger for Western Union and a taxi driver. But, deeply interested in Russian and American history, he studied hard, and spent nearly three decades teaching civics and history at Van Nuys and Fairfax High Schools and at the Los Angeles City College. A chance introduction started his parallel career, as a Hollywood correspondent for Israeli movie magazines. A long time member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Avik wrote about film and television, and photographed show business folks well into his eighties. His work was syndicated world wide. He was a familiar face backstage at the Golden Globe Awards, where he supervised the still photography room for many years, a position that allowed him to gregariously meet and greet colleagues and actors.
Avik was also an inveterate traveler who visited many corners of the globe, driving his VW bus from Europe to India before there were GPS and internet, and to Russia during the worst period of the cold war. He was an irrepressible kibitzer, with friends and strangers alike, in several languages. Passionate about classical music, he founded and directed the Gustav Mahler Society. He is survived by his bride of nearly 40 years, Elaine [nee Wells] and his wonderful sons, Aviel and Tamir, all of Los Angeles. Avik influenced, affected and touched all of us who knew him. We will always remember Avik’s energy, impatience and his passion for life. May he rest in peace. (On July 7, KUSC Radio (91.5 FM) – will air a special program of Gustav Mahler music dedicated to him. This broadcast will be sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.)