Jack Valenti, former White House aide and President of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) died this week after having suffered a stroke in March of 2007.
Reading this news reminded me of the amazing impact Jack Valenti had on the nation…the movie ratings system was created under his watch and brough the movie industry from government-content-control to a more reasonable system that gives We The People the ability to choose. I know he saw it in those terms because he told me so.
After I stepped on him.
In 1997, or maybe it was 1998, I was on a redeye flight from LA to DC. I was in the window seat, first class, on a United Airlines flight. Sitting beside me was an elderly gentleman with white hair and a very nice suit. At this point in my career, I was used to redeye flights and pretty much fell asleep before the flight even took off. From the looks of things, this person was planning on doing the same thing.
About halfway through the flight, I had to go…
He appeared to be asleep so I had the amazing idea to walk on the arm rests and jump into the aisle.
Just the kind of thing you’d expect to see someone do in first class.
It almost worked, if not for an air pocket just as I was stepping over him. Down I came; planting my foot right on high lightly-colored suit.
I left I nice dirt print.
Was he mad?
It turns out he was half awake and saw what I was trying to do.
He said, "Son, I really appreciate you trying to be all quiet like that…and it almost worked. Good try."
What a guy. LOL
At that point, I got a better look at him and recognized who he was.
We chatted a bit…and then we closed our eyes and slept for the rest of the flight.
He told me he was leaving the airport to go directly to speak before Congresss that morning. Most of the dirt from my shoe brushed off…I’m sure no one noticed. With the kind of respect Jack Valenti earned, on both coasts, I doubt anyone would have said anything anyway.
He was a warrior and a servant.