No quesion about it. Jack Valenti would have loved the tribute to him — the final tribute to him, that is — Thursday at the ArcLight theater in Hollywood. It was SRO. Jack would have loved that. Of course he would have loved being there. And if he were, all on hand agreed his speech would have been the best.
Jack died April 26 this year. He’d received tributes in his hometown of Washington at his funeral — and before as well as afterward. In Hollywood the former MPAA President was hosted by executives, players, creative talent — and, of course, family and friends. The speakers were Peter Chernin, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Alan Horn, Steven Bocho, daughter Alexandra Valenti and his widow Mary Margaret. A reception followed up the street on Ivar at the Cabana Club, site for many post-preem parties — which Jack had attended.
Peter Chernin noted Valenti had the same enthusiasm for his humanitarian efforts as he had had for the industry. A film depcting his post-showbiz efforts for the Friends of the Global Fight — against HIV, TB and Malaria preceded the remaining speakers. His real legacy is his fight against those diseases, the film emphasized. Mayor Villaraigosa noted how Valenti “negotiated the egos of small planets.” Alan Horn noted his prowess as a public speaker. (We had noted that excellence as he delivered the eulogy to Lew Wasserman).
Matt Gerson called him “an extraordinary communicator” and “the (Congressional) aisle — because to him, there was no aisle.” Stephen Bochco noted, “I wish Jack were here to help me with my speech. He used words we never heard before.”
Daughter Alexandra said, “This is the kind of party he would have liked — he would have flown out here from the east, attended the party and flown right back east afterward.” She was earthy and emotional about their relationship and said his life was cut too short — “he still had a book half-written in his computer — so many conversations about the incompetence of the President!” Mary Margaret told of his multitude of talents — and of his family love.
Jack Valenti will always be a role model for anyone — in showbusiness and in life.