Texas born, Harvard educated, Jack Valenti has led several lives: a wartime bomber pilot, advertising agency founder, political consultant, White House Special Assistant, movie industry ok .
In his current role as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Motion Picture Association, Valenti has presided over and led the American film and television industry as it has confronted a sea change in the landscape of the industry, both in the United States and abroad.
Born in Houston, Texas, Valenti was the youngest (age 15) high school graduate in the city. As a young pilot in the Army Air Corps in World War II, Lieutenant Valenti flew 51 combat missions as the pilot-commander of a B-25 attack bomber with the 12th Air Force in Italy. He was awarded 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.
He has a B.A. from the University of Houston and a M.B.A. from Harvard.
In 1952, he co-founded the advertising/political consulting agency of Weekley & Valenti. In 1955 he met the man who would have the largest impact on his life, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson. Valenti’s agency was in charge of the press during the visit of President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson to Texas. Valenti was in the motorcade (six cars back of the President) in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Within an hour of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Valenti was aboard Air Force One flying back to Washington with the new President as the first newly hired Special Assistant to the President.
On June 1, 1966, Valenti resigned his White House post to become the third man in MPA’s history (founded in 1922) to become its leader.
Valenti has written four books (three non-fiction):The Bitter Taste of Glory (World Publishing); A Very Human President (W.W. Norton Co.); Speak Up With Confidence (Wm. Morrow Co.), and the political novel, Protect and Defend (Doubleday). His most recent book is an updated revision of Speak Up With Confidence (2002, Hyperion).
Valenti has written extensively for America’s preeminent newspapers and magazines. He is one of the few public figures who actually writes his own speeches.
France has conferred upon him its highly prized Legion d’Honneur, the French Legion of Honor. Valenti has been awarded his own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. He has been named a Life Member of the Directors Guild of America.