Jerrold “Jerry” Perenchio, billionaire, founder of Univision and Fresno native, has died. Mr. Perenchio died at his home on Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 86.
Mr. Perenchio, who was born in Fresno on Dec. 20, 1930, grew up in a family of winemakers and produce brokers. His Italian-immigrant grandfather, John Battista Perenchio was a fresh-fruit broker who founded the Fresno Grape Exchange and a winery near Reedley, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He grew up learning about business and deal-making. At the age of 15, he enrolled in an elite Los Angeles prep school, the Black-Foxe Military Academy. Mr. Perenchio served in the military, rising to the rank of second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, according to the Los Angeles Times.
By the mid-1950s, he began his long career in Hollywood where over the course of several decades he would become a talent agent, boxing promoter, producer, theater owner, land owner, and ultimately one of the owners of Univision, the Spanish-language network.
Mr. Perenchio had amassed a fortune from his businesses and was known not just for his business acumen but for his philanthropy as well.
The Los Angeles Times wrote that in late 2014 Mr. Perenchio would leave much of his art collection – valued at more than $500 million – to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Although Mr. Perenchio had not lived in Fresno in more than 70 years, his philanthropy also extended into the central San Joaquin Valley.
In 2004, he donated $25,000 to Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo for much-needed repairs. Mr. Perenchio said he was spurred by a letter written to The Fresno Bee by then 9-year-old Angel Arellano, who donated $1 to the zoo and urged others to do the same.
At the time, Mr. Perenchio recalled visiting the zoo as a child, calling it a terrific place to go.