LOS ANGELES (AP) - 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.
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.
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. A lifelong film lover, he once cited the 1966 film "A Man for All Seasons" as his all-time favorite.
When he took over as president of the Motion Picture Association of America, Valenti was caught between Hollywood's outdated system of self-censorship and the liberal cultural explosion taking place in America.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.
"While I believe that every director, studio has the right to make the movies they want to make, everybody else has a right not to watch it," Valenti told The Associated Press shortly before his retirement in 2004. "All we do is give advance cautionary warnings and say this is what we think is in this movie."