Film Ratings Pioneer Jack Valenti Dies

04/26/2007 at 07:00 PM EDT

Film Ratings Pioneer Jack Valenti Dies
Jack Valenti
Jill Johnson/JPI
Jack Valenti, former head of the Motion Picture Association of America and creator of the film rating system, died Thursday at his Washington, D.C., home. He was 85.

The silver-haired Valenti had suffered a stroke in March and was released from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Tuesday, says his friend and publicist Warren Cowan.

Valenti, who early in his career served as an influential Washington lobbyist and then as aide and confidant to President Lyndon Johnson, was appointed head of the movie industry trade group in 1966. He will be best remembered for the controversial (but now standard) movie ratings system he initiated in 1968, grading new releases, now G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17.

"It's the end of an era," Sherry Lansing, former Paramount Pictures chairwoman, tells the Los Angeles Times. "He was one of the greatest leaders our industry ever had. He was one of those unique individuals who could build consensus."

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