Jack Valenti (1921 - 2007)

ADVERTISEMENT BY ANCESTRY.COM

Summary

Jack Valenti’s biography is built and maintained by people like you. Create an online profile of Jack so that his life is remembered forever. If any factual information is incorrect, please edit Jack’s biography.

Jack Valenti
Born Jack Joseph Valenti
September 5, 1921
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Died April 26, 2007 (aged 85)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alma mater University of Houston (BBA)
Harvard University (MBA)
Occupation President of the MPAA,
Special Assistant to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson
Spouse(s) Mary Margaret Wiley (m. 1962)
Children 3
Jack Joseph Valenti (September 5, 1921 – April 26, 2007) was a longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America. During his 38-year tenure in the MPAA, he created the MPAA film rating system, and he was generally regarded as one of the most influential pro-copyright lobbyists in the world.
Early life
Valenti was born on September 5, 1921 in Houston, Texas, the son of Italian immigrants.
In 1952, he and a partner named Weldon Weekley founded Weekley & Valenti, an advertising agency, with oil company, Conoco, as its first client. In 1956, Valenti met then Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson. Weekley & Valenti branched out into political consulting and added Representative Albert Thomas, a Johnson ally, as a client. In 1960, Valenti's firm assisted in the Kennedy-Johnson presidential campaign.
Political career
Valenti served as liaison with the news media during President John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson's November 22, 1963 visit to Dallas, Texas, and Valenti was in the presidential motorcade. Following the assassination of President Kennedy, Valenti was present in the famous photograph of Lyndon Johnson's swearing-in aboard Air Force One, and flew with the new president to Washington. He then became the first "special assistant" to Johnson's White House and lived in the White House for the first two months of Johnson's presidency. In 1964, Johnson gave Valenti the responsibility to handle relations with the Republican Congressional leadership, particularly Gerald Ford and Charles Halleck from the House of Representatives, and the Senate's Everett Dirksen.
Valenti later called Johnson "the most single dominating human being that I've ever been in contact with" and "the single most intelligent man I've ever known". In a speech before the American Advertising Federation in 1965, Valenti said: "I sleep each night a little better, a little more confidently, because Lyndon Johnson is my president."
Valenti later attacked film director Oliver Stone for the 1991 movie JFK. Valenti called the movie a "monstrous charade" and said, "I owe where I am today to Lyndon Johnson. I could not live with myself if I stood by mutely and let some filmmaker soil his memory."
Career in the MPAA
In 1966, Valenti, at the insistence of Universal Studios chief Lew Wasserman, and with Johnson's consent, resigned his White House commission and became the president of the Motion Picture Association of America. With Valenti's arrival in Hollywood, the pair were lifelong allies, and together orchestrated and controlled how Hollywood would conduct business for the next several decades.
William Patry, a copyright attorney for the Clinton administration, who observed Valenti at first hand says:
His personal passion and extreme comfort around politicians gave him credibility that others ... would lack. Mr Valenti was a consummate salesman, who like all great salesmen ... worked himself up into believing the truth of his clients' message. Those privileged to see Mr Valenti offstage – talking openly with his clients about what could or could not be achieved, and what artifice would or would not work – are aware that Mr Valenti's clients frequently disagreed with his advice and directed him to deliver a different message through a different artifice. [He] was a great actor working on the stage of Washington DC (and sometimes globally) on behalf of an industry that appreciated his craft, but that never let him forget that the message was theirs and not his.
Movie rating system
In 1968, Valenti created the MPAA film rating system, which initially comprised four distinct ratings: G, M, R and X. The M rating was soon replaced by GP, and changed to PG in 1972. The X rating immediately proved troublesome, since it was not trademarked and therefore was used freely by the pornography industry, with which it became most associated. Films such as Midnight Cowboy and A Clockwork Orange were assumed to be pornographic because they carried the X rating. In 1990 the NC-17 rating was introduced as a trademarked "adults only" replacement for the non-trademarked X-rating. The PG-13 rating was added in 1984 to provide a greater range of distinction for audiences, and was first proposed to Valenti by Steven Spielberg.
Retirement
Jack Valenti
Valenti's salary in 2004 was reported to be $1.35 million, which made him the seventh-highest paid Washington trade group chief, according to the National Journal.
Valenti was nominated for President of the United States by the Alfalfa Club in 2004.
In August 2004, Valenti, then 82 years old, retired and was replaced by former U.S. Congressman and Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. The current head of the ratings system, Joan Graves, was appointed by Valenti.
After retirement from the MPAA, he became involved in technology-related venture capital activities, such as joining the Advisory Board of Legend Ventures where he advised on media investment opportunities. He also remained a supporter of causes linked to his Italian American heritage and was a member of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) for more than 20 years.
After retiring from the MPAA in 2004, Valenti became the first President of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, an organization founded by philanthropists Edward W. Scott and Adam Waldman. The founders wanted to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in its work to prevent millions of people from dying of preventable and treatable diseases each year. Under Valenti's leadership, Friends of the Global Fight oversaw a steady increase in U.S. funding for the Global Fund, resulting in a large-scale, positive impact in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Valenti remained President of Friends of the Global Fight until his death in 2007.
Death
He died on April 26, 2007, at his home in Washington from stroke complications. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery under a veteran's gravestone, which lists both his war decorations and his years as president of the MPAA.
Following his death, the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) launched the NIAF Jack Valenti Institute, which provides support to Italian American film students, in his memory. Director Martin Scorsese launched the institute at the Foundation's 32nd Anniversary Gala, after receiving an award from Mary Margaret Valenti.
Legacy
His memoirs This Time, This Place: My Life in War, the White House and Hollywood were published on May 15, 2007, only a few weeks after his death.
Honors
Valenti received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for his service with the Army Air Force during the Second World War. In 1969, Jack Valenti received the Bronze Medallion, New York City's highest civilian honor. In 1985, Jack Valenti received the French Légion d'Honneur. In 2002, the University of Houston bestowed Valenti an honorary doctorate.
In December 2003, Valenti received the "Legend in Leadership Award" from the Chief Executive Leadership Institute of the Yale School of Management.
In June 2005, the Washington DC headquarters of the Motion Picture Association of America, was renamed the Jack Valenti Building. It is located at 888 16th St. NW, Washington DC, very close to the White House. Jack Valenti maintained an office on the 8th floor, outside the MPAA's space, until his death.
In April 2008, the University of Houston renamed its School of Communication to the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication in his honor. Valenti was one of the school's notable alumni.
Personal life
In 1962, at the age of 41, Valenti married Mary Margaret Valenti. They had three children: John, Alexandra and Warner Bros. studio executive Courtenay Valenti. He died just before their forty-fifth wedding anniversary.

In 1964, the FBI conducted an investigation concerning whether Valenti had a sexual relationship with a male photographer (at a time when homosexual acts were still illegal in many states of the United States). The investigation concluded that there was no evidence that Valenti was a homosexual.[19]

In 1995, he voiced a portrayal of himself on the Warner Bros. animated series Freakazoid! (close friend Steven Spielberg was the executive producer); wherein he helped recount the origin of the titular hero; he also lectured about the movie ratings by using stickers of a family; and also made frequent reference to his cheeks.

In the 2016 biographical film Jackie, Valenti is portrayed by actor Max Casella.

Books by Jack Valenti
Ten Heroes and Two Heroines (1957)
The Bitter Taste of Glory (1971)
A Very Human President (1976; ISBN 0-671-80834-6)
Protect and Defend (1992; ISBN 0-385-41735-7)
Speak Up With Confidence (2002; ISBN 0-7868-8750-8)
This Time This Place (2007; ISBN 0-307-34664-1 )

Jack Valenti Biography & Family History

This genealogy profile is dedicated to the life and ancestry of Jack Valenti and his immediate Valenti family. Add to Jack Valenti's genealogy page to share your memories & historical research with his family and other genealogy hobbyists.

Jack Valenti was also known as:

Jack Joseph Valenti

Birth

Death

on

Cause of death

There is no cause of death listed for Jack.

Burial / Funeral

Do you know the final resting place - gravesite in a cemetery or location of cremation - of Jack Valenti? Add burial and funeral information.

Obituary

Last Known Residence

Washington, District of Columbia County, District Of Columbia

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Family

Add family members

Education

Valenti graduated from the University of Houston in 1946 with a BBA. During his time there, he worked on the staff of the university newspaper, The Daily Cougar, and was president of the university's student government. Valenti would later serve on the university's board of regents.
After earning an M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1948, Valenti went to work for Humble Oil in its advertising department, where he helped the company's Texas gas stations jump from fifth to first in sales through a "cleanest restrooms" campaign.

Professions

Valenti on new technologies
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Valenti became notorious for his flamboyant attacks on the Sony Betamax Video Cassette Recorder (VCR), which the MPAA feared would devastate the movie industry. He famously told a congressional panel in 1982, "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." Despite Valenti's prediction, the home video market ultimately came to be the mainstay of movie studio revenues throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act
Jack Valenti in 1991
In 1998, Valenti lobbied for the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, arguing that copyright infringement via the Internet would severely damage the record and movie industries.
2003 screener ban injunction
In 2003, Valenti found himself at the center of the so-called screener debate, as the MPAA barred studios and many independent producers from sending screener copies of their films to critics and voters in various awards shows. Under mounting industry pressure and a court injunction Antidote Int'l Films Inc. et al. v MPAA (November 2003), Valenti backed down in 2004, narrowly avoiding a massive and embarrassing antitrust lawsuit against the MPAA.
The Coalition of Independent Filmmakers' Jeff Levy-Hinte, IFP/Los Angeles executive director Dawn Hudson and IFP/New York executive director Michelle Byrd said in a joint statement, "By obtaining a court order to force the MPAA to lift the screener ban last December, the Coalition enabled individual distributors to determine when and in what manner to distribute promotional screeners." It was viewed as Valenti's greatest professional loss.

Organizations

Add organizations, groups and memberships.

Military Service

During World War II, he was a first lieutenant in the United States Army Air Force. Valenti flew 51 combat missions as the pilot-commander of a B-25 medium bomber and received four decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal.

Middle name

Unknown. Add middle name

Surnames

Ethnicity

Unknown. Add Jack's ethnicity.

Nationality

Unknown. Add Jack's nationality.

Religion

Unknown. Was Jack a religious man? Add Jack’s religion

Gender

Male

Timeline

1921 - In the year that Jack Valenti was born, in May, the Emergency Quota Act - or Emergency Immigration Act - was passed. The law restricted the number of immigrants to 357,000 per year. It also established an immigration quota in which only 3 per cent of the total population of any ethnic group already in the USA in 1910, could be admitted to America after 1921. Although the Act was supposed to be temporary, it stayed in effect until 1965.

1943 - He was 22 years old when on March 31st, the Broadway musical Oklahoma! opened. Written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (the first of their string of successful collaborations), audiences loved it. The musical ran for 2,212 performances originally and was made into a movie in 1954.

1946 - When he was 25 years old, pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock's book "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care" was published. It sold half a million copies in the first six months. Aside from the Bible, it became the best selling book of the 20th century. A generation of Baby Boomers were raised by the advice of Dr. Spock.

1984 - By the time he was 63 years old, on January 1, "Baby Bells" were created. AT&T had been the provider of telephone service (and equipment) in the United States. The company kept Western Electric, Bell Labs, and AT&T Long Distance. Seven new regional companies (the Baby Bells) covered local telephone service and were separately owned. AT&T lost 70% of its book value due to this move.

1993 - Jack was 72 years old when on January 20th, William J. Clinton became the 42nd President of the United States. He beat incumbent George H.W. Bush who was seeking his second term. Clinton won 43.01% of the popular vote to Bush's 37.45%. An independent candidate, Ross Perot, won 18.91% - the most votes for an independent candidate since Teddy Roosevelt's run for President in 1912.

Jack Valenti Family Tree

Who was Jack’s parents? Did he get married and did they have children? Share Jack’s family tree to share his legacy and genealogy pedigree.

Jack's Family
Add a parent
Add a parent
Jack Valenti
Add a partner
Add a child
Add a partner
Add a child
Add a sibling

You can add or remove people from Jack's family tree by clicking here.

Obituary

This obit of Jack Valenti is updated by the community. Edit this biography to contribute to his obituary. Include details such as cemetery, burial, newspaper obituary and grave or marker inscription if available.

Jack Valenti passed away on April 26, 2007 at 85 years of age. There is no known cause of death. He was born on September 5, 1921. There is no information about Jack's family or relationships. We know that Jack Valenti had been residing in Washington, District of Columbia County, District Of Columbia.

Share a Memory about Jack Valenti

What do you remember about Jack Valenti? Share your memories of special moments and stories you have heard about him. Or just leave a comment to show the world that Jack is remembered.

Other Records of Jack Valenti

ADVERTISEMENT BY ANCESTRY.COM

Other Biographies

Success Stories from Biographies like Jack Valenti

I have to tell you a VERY special story about how AncientFaces helped to reunite our family. For 13 years, I have been searching for my grandmother's missing sister. She just disappeared from the family in the 1930s without a trace. No one ever knew where or when she died or where she was buried. My years of searching have just run into dead ends, so I had given up. Today, out-of-the-blue, a young lady called me and said that she had seen a photograph on AncientFaces and one of the women in the photo was her grandmother! Little did I know that she had left a small child behind when she died so young of TB. You can imagine our shock and excitement at finding each other and a whole new family that we never knew existed. We only live one state away from each other and very soon plan to have all family members meet to share our sides of "the story" and of course, many, many more picturesl AncientFaces...... without you, this family may never have been complete and Aunt Grace would have been lost to us forever. I hope you realize what a valuable service you provide and how grateful we are to have found you. Thank you!!!! -Lynda B.
I never knew my biological family. My family is my mother and father who raised me. But, as I got older I got curious about my heritage. It took me years of investigation to finally discover my parents’ names. Well, I get goosebumps just writing this, I have found my biological family because of AncientFaces. Yes!! I did a search for my [parents' names] and was shocked to find a photo of them on AncientFaces! I cannot tell you the feeling that came over me when I saw this photo - to see the faces of my biological parents…JUST LIKE THAT. I left a comment on the photo and you won’t believe this - the owner of the photo is MY SISTER!!! Yes, I have a LITTLE sister! It turns out my parents were too young when they had me and had to give me up. My little sister knew I existed and wanted to find me but had no way of doing it. Thanks to you I am meeting my little sister for the first time next month. GOD BLESS YOU ANCIENTFACES. -Anonymous
We have found our missing relative entirely thanks to AncientFaces. We have received a much clearer photo of Captain Grant from his Son. The picture we on AncientFaces is an old yellowed newspaper photo. I am attaching the new photo and ask that you take the old one out and put the new clear picture in its place. With our Canadian Remembrance Day here in 2 days - the timing could not be better. Thank You, AncientFaces. My long lost Aunt is now 86 years old and her Son and I are talking by phone and e-mails. Captain Grant was his Father and died in France in 1944 and is buried there. By posting pictures of the visit to his gravesite - we connected through one of his brothers. Amazing that our prayers have been answered. Thank you -Beth B.
I came home for lunch yesterday and decided to look at my email before going back to work. The weekly newsletter that I subscribe to from the Logan Family History Center had this message in it about AncientFaces. I clicked on the link and the first search I did was for Woodruff, and Mamie was the first picture that came up. I could hardly stand it. I was late getting back to work. I had to add comments and write to you. Thank you for noticing her in the store and for the website. I can't help but wonder how many other family pictures may have ended up in that store and why. I also can't help but feel that it was meant to be and that there is a purpose that this picture is coming home as you say. What are the chances of this all just happening? It's amazing that you even picked it up at the store and then went to all the extra effort to post it. It makes me feel as though you have been my friend forever. It certainly has given me a connection to you, and I have a love for what you do. I just can't tell you how excited I am. I can't even hold it in. -Cathy K., Utah
I have previously submitted several pictures of my grandfather August Zemidat. I have tried for many years to find anyone with that name, and I have searched many genealogy web sites to no avail. Recently I was contacted by someone who saw my pictures on AncientFaces who may well be a cousin. She also provided me with information that seems to indicate her grandparents were my grandfather’s siblings. Considering the many years I have been searching for the name Zemidat, I find this is absolutely amazing that I have finally found a family member. Thank you AncientFaces -Ron D.
I love AncientFaces, a while back I saw that you had labeled Garcia surname pictures. At the time I didn’t have all my family facts for my research. Anyway, I wandered into your site just to check it out AND NOW 1 YEAR LATER I received a picture from an 87 year old aunt and guess what you had this very same picture on your site!! (They were my great aunts and my great-grandmother!). Thank you… -Angela M.
I have loved AncientFaces since I first found it, it's the first thing I check when I turn on the computer. There was a time when even in the most modest households there were three cherished possessions, a family Bible. a family album and a fancy lamp. It was usual for the family to gather in the parlour, generally on Sunday and talk, tell stories of family and friends with the photos in the albums as illustration. Sadly in our modern electronic age we have fallen away from the oral tradition and interest in history has waned. I was quite shocked on the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic to see so many comments from younger people who were surprised to learn that the Titanic wasn't just a movie. This is why AncientFaces is so important, to me it's the electronic age version of the oral tradition on a global scale and the sheer volume of people who follow, comment and contribute seems to prove the point. We are all grateful to you all for providing us with this wonderful site. - Arba M.