Hollywood Lobbyist, Ex-MPAA Jack Valenti Dead at 85

Apr 27, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Jack Valenti, the ex-Lyndon Johnson aide, whose accomplishments including building both the movie industry and later the TV industry’s content rating system, is dead at age 85.

Mr. Valenti died April 26 of complications of a stroke.

The patrician Mr. Valenti, who headed the Motion Picture Association of America for 34 years, crafted the original movie ratings system in 1968 as the movie industry’s old production code was falling apart. The movie industry’s success and its years of experience prompted the TV industry to turn to Mr. Valenti in 1996 when Congress’ creation of the V-chip required similar kinds of ratings for TV content.

In both the TV and motion picture industries, Mr. Valenti was known for his crisp attire, his always colorful quotes and his strong advocacy.

The TV industry turned again to Mr. Valenti last year to help unveil its plans for a $300 million public service effort promoting the V-chip.

At a July hearing Mr. Valenti testified to Congress that the new public service campaign for the V-chip would be “epiphany for parents.”

Broadcasting, movie and congressional leaders last night and today issued expressions of sadness.

“Working with Jack Valenti in the last year and a half has been one of the highlights of my 25 years in Washington,” said National Association of Broadcasters president-CEO David K. Rehr. “Jack’s unparalleled advocacy for the motion picture industry was matched only by his innate decency as a person. Broadcasters have lost a First Amendment freedom fighter, and America has lost the most gifted public speaker of his generation. We mourn the passing of this great man.”

National Cable and Telecommunications Association president-CEO Kyle McSlarrow called Mr. Valenti “a larger than life figure who brought passion, integrity and wit to every one of his endeavors.”

“He was and will remain the gold standard for effective advocacy, whatever the cause. On a personal note, I learned a great deal from him and will miss him greatly. Our industry, indeed our country, has lost a great leader.”