May 1, 2007 - Issue: Vol. 153, No. 70 — Daily Edition110th Congress (2007 - 2008) - 1st Session
THE PASSING OF MR. JACK VALENTI; Congressional Record Vol. 153, No. 70
(Senate - May 01, 2007)
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[Pages S5433-S5434] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] THE PASSING OF MR. JACK VALENTI Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I wish to honor my good friend Jack Valenti, who, passed away last week on April 26. Throughout his life, Jack Valenti wore several hats, including that of a soldier, a devoted public servant, and a pioneer in the film industry. Jack was born on September 5, 1921, in Houston, TX and was the grandson of Sicilian immigrants. At age 15, he became the youngest high school graduate in the history of the city of Houston and began a career as an office boy with Exxon Oil. Jack served honorably in the Army Air Corps during World War II, flying in 51 separate combat missions as pilot of the B-25 attack bomber with the 12th Air Force in Italy. He obtained the rank of lieutenant and received multiple 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. After serving in the war, Jack attended college at the University of Houston, doing all his undergraduate work at night as he worked during the day. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1946 and later became the University of Houston's first graduate ever to be admitted to Harvard Business School. He received an MBA from Harvard in 1948. In the intervening years, Jack held many positions in this town, but in 1966 Jack resigned from a top position in the White House to become only the third president of the Motion Picture Association of America, MPAA. He held this, his most famous position, for 38 years before retiring in 2004. As president of MPAA, Jack arbitrated one of the most famous developments the film industry has ever come out with--the voluntary rating system. The ratings ``G,'' ``PG,'' ``PG-13'' and ``R'' have become staples, not only in the movie-going practices of every American but also in our Nation's cultural consciousness. However, more important than the societal notions and the cliched images associated with these ratings is the real assistance that this system has provided to parents and families in evaluating the appropriateness of various movies. Indeed, the MPAA rating system pioneered by Jack Valenti has become a prime example of the effectiveness of industry self-regulation without government intervention, and I am very grateful for Jack's work in this area even when many in his industry fought him along the way. In addition to pioneering the rating system, Jack Valenti also worked to advance the film industry into the 21st century. Indeed, during his tenure at the MPAA, he presided over unprecedented changes in the worldwide film industry, including the advancement of the digital era. I remember having several conversations with Jack as the film industry struggled to deal with the new challenges presented by digital distribution of their content. Together, Jack and I worked tirelessly to balance the competing demands of consumer's rights and the protection of one of America's largest exports--entertainment. With Jack's help, we were able to refocus the Federal Government's resources to more effectively protect the creative genius of a great American industry--the film industry. We all know how blatantly some bad actors around the world pirate America's movies and rob the United States of jobs. Thanks to Jack's efforts, we have made great strides in this area and laid the groundwork to allow us to stamp out this criminal activity in the years ahead. Combating the theft and piracy of intellectual property was a real passion for Jack, and I was privileged to work with him in this endeavor. Mr. President, those of us who knew Jack Valenti personally will always remember him as a charitable man who was devoted to his family. While his influence on the film industry has been famous and unmistakable, many of us will remember him more for the personal friendship we shared with him. I will miss him greatly. Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, and that any statements relating to the resolution be printed in the Record. The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered. The resolution (S. Res. 182) was agreed to. The preamble was agreed to. The resolution, with its preamble, reads as follows: S. Res. 182 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 3 children, John, Alexandra, and Courtenay; Whereas Jack Valenti joined the United States Army Air Forces 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 4 decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 4 clusters, the Distinguished Unit Citation with one cluster, and the European Theater Ribbon with 4 battle stars; Whereas Jack Valenti received a B.A. degree 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. degree in 1948; Whereas, in 1952, Jack Valenti cofounded Weekley and Valenti, an advertising and political consulting agency that worked on Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential campaign in Texas, Representative Albert Thomas's run for Congress, and John Connally's campaign for Governor of Texas; Whereas Jack Valenti met then-Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson in 1957, 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 (MPAA) 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 the Nation's capital, which grew year by year during his nearly 4 decade tenure at the MPAA; Whereas Jack Valenti presided over a worldwide change in the motion picture industry, ushered movies into the digital era, championed artists' rights, and condemned intellectual property theft; Whereas Jack Valenti authored 5 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, the 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 [[Page S5434]] French Legion of Honor, and has been honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and Whereas Jack Valenti will be remembered 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 That the Senate honors the life of Jack Valenti, a pioneer in the fields of motion pictures and public service, a dedicated family man, and a legendary figure in the history of the United States. ____________________