Jack Valenti, the former White House aide and film industry lobbyist who instituted the modern movie ratings system and guided Hollywood from the censorship era to the digital age, died Thursday. He was 85.
The Associated Press reports that Valenti had a stroke in March and was hospitalized for several weeks at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore.
He died of complications from the stroke at his Washington, D.C., home, said Seth Oster of the Motion Picture Association of America.
"In a sometimes unreasonable business, Jack Valenti was a giant voice of reason," Steven Spielberg said in a statement. "He was the greatest ambassador Hollywood has ever known, and I will value his wisdom and friendship for all time."
Valenti was a special assistant and confidant to President Lyndon Johnson when he was lured to Hollywood in 1966 by movie moguls Lew Wasserman and Arthur Krim.
When he took over as president of the Motion Picture Association of America, Valenti was caught between Hollywood's outdated system of self-censorship and the liberal cultural explosion taking place in America.
Valenti abolished the industry's restrictive Hays code, which prohibited explicit violence and frank treatment of sex, and in 1968 oversaw creation of today's letter-based ratings system.
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