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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hollywood's Point Man Jack Valenti Passes Away

LOS ANGELES -- Jack Valenti was not just Hollywood's top lobbyist. He was one of its biggest stars.

Valenti, who died Thursday at the age of 85 of complications from a stroke in March, led the movie industry out of the prudishness of old Hollywood and into an age of freer expression with the creation of the film rating system that has endured nearly 40 years.

The former White House aide went from politics to show business, overseeing the Motion Picture Association of America with eloquence, bullheadedness and flair.

Valenti was a passionate envoy, deflecting criticism of Hollywood with wit and humility, fostering its interests overseas and fiercely combating threats to the industry.

"In a very real sense, he was the ultimate leading man," said Dan Glickman, Valenti's successor as head of the MPAA.

A former aide to then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson who was in the motorcade the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Valenti went from Washington insider to Hollywood baron when he took over the MPAA in 1966.

His impact on American culture was almost immediate. Recognizing that the industry had outgrown the morality code regulating movie content since the 1930s, Valenti replaced it with a ratings system that survives to this day.

"In a sometimes unreasonable business, Jack Valenti was a giant voice of reason," Steven Spielberg said. "He was the greatest ambassador Hollywood has ever known, and I will value his wisdom and friendship for all time."

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world, because I spent my entire public working career in two of life's classic fascinations: politics and Hollywood," he said in 2004.