Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate today approved a resolution introduced by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) honoring the life of Jack Valenti, who died on April 26 at the age of 85. The resolution was introduced earlier in the day.
Valenti was a legendary figure – serving as a top aide to President Lyndon Johnson, and later as the face of the Motion Picture Association of America.
“Jack Valenti was a larger-than-life man and an innovator who built the Motion Picture Association of America into a great institution,” Senator Feinstein said. “More than that, he was a friend who is truly missed. My condolences go to Mary Margaret, their children and the rest of the Valenti family.”
Co-sponsors of the Resolution include Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
Following is the text of the resolution honoring the life of Jack Valenti:
“Whereas Jack Valenti was born September 5, 1921, in Houston, Texas, the grandson of Sicilian immigrants, Joe and Josephine Valenti, and was the youngest high school graduate in the city at age 15;
Whereas Jack Valenti married his beloved Mary Margaret in 1962, with whom he had three children, John, Alexandra, and Courtenay;
Whereas Jack Valenti joined the Air Force in 1942 and flew 51 combat missions as a pilot of a B-25 attack bomber with the 12th Air Force in Italy during World War II, obtained the rank of lieutenant, and received four decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with four clusters, the Distinguished Unit Citation with one cluster, and the European Theater Ribbon with four battle stars;
Whereas Jack Valenti received a B.A. from the University of Houston in 1946 after doing all of his undergraduate work at night and working during the day, and became the first University of Houston graduate to be admitted to Harvard Business School, receiving an M.B.A. in 1948;
Whereas in 1952 Jack Valenti co-founded Weekley and Valenti, an advertising and political consulting agency that worked on Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential campaign in Texas, U.S. Representative Albert Thomas' run for Congress, and John Connally's campaign for governor of Texas;
Whereas in 1957 Jack Valenti met then-Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, the two became close friends, and Valenti worked on Lyndon Johnson's presidential campaign during the primaries of 1960;
Whereas Weekley and Valenti handled press during President John F. Kennedy’s and Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s fateful trip to Dallas, Texas in November 1963;
Whereas Jack Valenti became the first special assistant hired when Lyndon Johnson ascended to the Presidency;
Whereas Jack Valenti resigned his White House post in 1966 and went on to serve as the president of the Motion Picture Association of America for the next 38 years;
Whereas Jack Valenti, as president of the MPAA, created the voluntary film rating system that is still in place today, which provides parents with advance information they can use to determine which movies are appropriate for their children;
Whereas Jack Valenti’s persona and skill combined to give the motion picture industry a strong and enduring presence in our nation’s capital which grew year by year during his nearly four decade tenure at the MPAA;
Whereas Jack Valenti presided over a worldwide change in the motion picture industry, ushered the movies into the digital era, championed artists’ rights, and condemned intellectual property theft;
Whereas Jack Valenti authored five books, including A Very Human President, Protect and Defend, The Bitter Taste Of Glory, Speak Up With Confidence, and, his most recent, This Time, This Place: My Life in War, the White House, and Hollywood, and wrote numerous essays for the New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Reader's Digest, Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, Cox newspapers and other publications;
Whereas Jack Valenti was awarded with France’s highly-prized Legion d'Honneur, the French Legion of Honor, and has been honored with his own Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Whereas Jack Valenti will be remembered by as a dedicated family man, a philanthropist, a voice for copyright owners, a true visionary whose devotion, intelligence, creativity and wisdom transformed the film industry, and as Hollywood’s ultimate leading man: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That Congress honors the life of Jack Valenti, a pioneer in the fields of motion pictures and public service, a dedicated family man, Hollywood’s ambassador, and a legendary figure in American history.”