Under a beautiful blue Tuesday morning sky in Washington the two coasts were joined in tribute to Jack Valenti.
Outside the church–St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington–journalistic and political and entertainment families were united at the funeral of the former Motion Picture Association of America President, who died of a stroke last week at age 85.
For most, that is a "well done, oh good and faithful servant" age, when death is not unexpected, if no less painful. But Jack Valenti was a man of such energy and will that his death, no matter when it came, would be a shock. Indefatigable, indestructable, and indomitable all come to mind.
Valenti, as perhaps no one else, bridged the worlds of Hollywood and politics, making friends and respected opponents. He seemed to have no enemies save sloth and censorship. The friends, and they were legion, showed up in droves and phalanxes Tuesday.
Mike and Chris Wallace were there, as were Kirk and Michael Douglas. John Dingell and Joe Biden and Ted Stevens and John Kerry and Barry Diller and Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. There was Ted Koppel and Paul Begala and Brad Grey and Arlen Specter (and the credits could roll on for a page or two at least).
The funeral and reception were closed to the media, which instead staked out the perimeter of the church, capturing the throng as it exited an approximately two-hour service for the lion-maned former bomber pilot, ad man, presidential adviser, and movie industry lobbyist.
In deference to the request for privacy, I won't talk about the service, but a litany of some of the honorary pallbearers tells you all you need to know about both how important and admired and loved the man was.
Joe Allbritton, Steven Bochco, Benjamin Bradlee, Warren Buffet, Peter Chernin, Robert Iger, Edward Kennedy, Sherry Lansing, John Dolgen, Patrick Leahy, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ted Stevens, George Stevens Jr., George Tenet, Robert Wagner, Bill Moyers….The list goes on and on, as I fully expect will the impact of the man they all came to say goodbye to.
I am familiar with the inside of the cathedral. Above and flanking the altar, perched as if to command a soaring space that ends in a dome the color of Tuesday's sky, sits a lion with his wings outstretched and behind his head what could be a halo or a spotlight or, in this case I think, both.
By John Eggerton