Jack Valenti, the face of censorship and creator of the Motion Picture Association of America has died at the age 85.
Valenti was the central instigator of the US movie ratings system. He pioneered and lobbied for the introduction of parental guidance boundaries, which classified movies and led to directors re-considering their movie making.
News of his death has come as a shock to many people. His prolific career and passionate nature saw him form many friendships within the entertainment and political worlds.
Steven Spielberg is the latest movie icon to pay tribute to Valenti, but we don't expect him to be the last. “In a sometimes unreasonable business, Jack Valenti was a giant voice of reason. He was the greatest ambassador Hollywood has ever known and I will value his wisdom and friendship for all time," Spielberg said today.
"He had a tremendous grasp of the entertainment business, he had to work for some pretty strong, opinionated people who were sometimes on different sides of an issue. I don't ever remember him being defeated. He'd lobby every single person to come up with a compromise we found acceptable," remembered Bob Daly, former Warner Bros. co-chairman.
Valenti landed a job in the film industry through his impressive career in Washington; when, after serving as a loyal aide to President Lyndon Johnson, was later appointed head of the MPAA in the ‘60s.
He quickly became the go-to-guy for studio heads seeking advice on how to acclimatize to the taut political and social pressures in the air, helping lead them through the fog and giving Hollywood a voice in congress.