NIAF News Releases



Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

Valenti as the keynote speaker at a 2004 NIAF Public Policy Forum
(WASHINGTON, D.C. -- April 27, 2007) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) mourns the passing of founding member Jack Valenti, former president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and a NIAF board member for more than 20 years, who died yesterday of complications following a stroke at the age of 85.

"We are deeply saddened by the death of our constant supporter and dear friend, Jack Valenti," says Chairman Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli. "He worked tirelessly to preserve the heritage of Italian Americans. His passing leaves a void in the Italian-American community."

Born September 5, 1921 in Houston, Texas, Valenti served as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He flew 51 combat missions, rising to the rank of lieutenant and receiving four decorations for his service. He received his B.A. from the University of Houston and an M.B.A. from Harvard University; in 1951, he co-founded "Weekley & Valenti," an advertising and political consulting firm.

Valenti shares his 1999 NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service with his wife, Mary Margaret
Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Valenti served as a special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1966, he left the White House to head the MPAA, an organization he guided for 38 years. In 1968, he created the MPAA film rating system, which is still in use today. He authored four books, including "This Time, This Place: My Life in War, The White House, and Hollywood," scheduled to be released by Harmony Books in June of this year. Valenti retired at the age of 82 in 2004.

In 1975, Valenti became a founding member of NIAF, working to promote the preservation of Italian-American heritage. He served on the Foundation's Board of Directors for more than two decades. In 1999, he received the NIAF Special Achievement Award for Public Service.

Lena Wurtmuller, Sophia Loren and Valenti at 2002 NIAF Gala
In December 2006, Valenti hosted an advance screening of "Rocky Balboa" for NIAF at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C., introducing actor and director Sylvester Stallone. In February, NIAF and the American Film Institute unveiled a bust honoring Valenti during a public ceremony at the institute's Louis B. Mayer Library in Los Angeles, Calif.

NIAF is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. To learn about our programs/events, visit

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