Danny Villanueva, who co-founded Univision and helped turned it into a powerhouse in Spanish-language TV, has died. He was 77. His alma mater Mew Mexico State University said the exec died at a Ventura County hospital of complications from a stroke last week.
Following a career as a NFL kicker with the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s, Villanueva co-founded Spanish International Communications Corp., which later became Univision. He served in numerous top posts during his 25-year TV career developing and selling broadcast properties around the country and built KMEX-TV Los Angeles into one of the most profitable and influential Spanish-language stations in the U.S. He was a part owner of Univision when it was sold to Hallmark Cards and First Chicago Venture Capital in 1988.
The New Mexico native started at then-tiny KMEX as a sportscaster while still kicking for the Rams and stayed with the station after being shipped to Dallas in 1965. By the late ’60s, he was news director. As KMEX grew in size and influence, the exec continued to secure financial interest in small broadcasters that eventually would make up Spanish International Communications Corp. and eventually become Univision — of which KMEX is the flagship.
Villanueva also co-founded the investment firm Bastion Capital in 1992 and co-founded Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners, an investment firm aimed at helping family businesses. During his career, he also held stakes in a pair Los Angeles pro soccer clubs: Major League Soccer’s Galaxy and the old NASL’s Aztecs.