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Saturday, December 9, 2023


Former regent dies at age 85

UH alumnus Jack Valenti, creator of the movie rating system and former member of the UH System Board of Regents, died Wednesday at the age of 85 of complications from a stroke

Valenti, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business from UH in 1946, was a powerful lobbyist and advocate for the movie industry and served as a special assistant to President Johnson.

"He’s one of the giants of the film industry," communication professor Garth Jowett told the Houston Chronicle.

Valenti navigated stormy events throughout his life, including serving as a pilot commander on 51 combat missions during World War II.

He was also managing the press during President Kennedy’s ill-fated visit to Texas in 1963 and was several cars back in the motorcade when the assassination occurred in Dallas, according to Valenti’s profile on the Bauer College of Business’ Web site. Valenti accompanied Johnson back to Washington, D.C., and is visible in the photo of the vice president being sworn in on Air Force One. He was shortly thereafter appointed as special assistant to the president, a post he held until 1966.

Valenti then became the third president of the Motion Picture Association of America, retiring in 2004, the Houston Chronicle reported.

UH awarded Valenti an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2002.

The UH alumnus grew up in Houston’s First Ward, the Houston Chronicle reported, and developed a love of movies and the film industry early in life.

"I grew up in movie theaters. I must have seen hundreds and hundreds of movies," he told Texas Monthly in 1997.

Valenti was also responsible for developing the movie rating system that labels movies to help patrons make decisions on which films their children should see.

Valenti is survived by his wife, three children, two grandchildren and sister.

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