Danny Villanueva Sr. Dies at 77; NFL Kicker, Spanish-Language TV Pioneer

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Danny Villanueva Sr., a former NFL kicker and pioneer of Spanish-language television, is shown in 1997. (Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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Danny Villanueva Sr., a former NFL kicker who went on to become a pivotal figure in the development of Spanish-language television in the U.S., has died. He was 77.

Villanueva, who played for the Los Angeles Rams and the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s, died Thursday due to complications from a stroke, his family said in a statement.

After eight years as one of the first Latino players for the NFL, Villanueva entered the world of broadcasting as a sportscaster for KMEX and rose through its ranks. He became news director, station manager and later president and part owner of the company that became Univision.

During his time at the station, KMEX established itself as a major player in local news and won a prestigious Peabody Award in 1970 for its coverage of the killing of journalist Ruben Salazar by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy and the turmoil surrounding the Chicano movement.

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