On this Day in Movie History, November 1, 1968: MPAA Film Rating System Becomes Effective

It was on this day, November 1, 1968 the MPAA film rating system went into effect with four ratings: G, M, R, and X, with three organizations serving as its monitoring and guiding groups: the MPAA, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), and the International Film Importers & Distributors of America (IFIDA).

The original film ratings were:

G: General Audiences – Suggested for General Audiences – All Ages Admitted
M: Mature Audiences – Suggested for Mature Audiences (Parental Discretion Advised) The M rating was changed to GP in 1970 and to the current PG in 1972. In 1984, in response to public complaints regarding the severity of horror elements in PG-rated titles such as Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the PG-13 rating was created as a middle tier between PG and R.
R: Restricted – People Under 16 Not Admitted Unless Accompanied by Parent or Adult Guardian
X: Adults Only – People Under 16 will not be Admitted (changed to 17 in January, 1970). In 1990, the X rating was replaced by NC-17, partly because the X rating was not trademarked by the MPAA, whereas pornographic bookstores and theaters were using their own X and XXX symbols to market products, any producer not submitting a film for MPAA rating could self-apply the “X” rating (or any other symbol or description that was not an MPAA trademark).

This content classification system originally was to have three ratings with the intention of allowing parents to take their children to any film they choose. However, the National Association of Theater Owners urged the creation of an adults only category, fearful of possible legal problems in local jurisdictions.

With the MPAA’s introduction of its rating system, the U.S. was a latecomer as far as film classification was concerned. Countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom had begun this practice earlier in the 20th century.

1939 – Barbara Bosson (actress: Hill Street Blues, Cop Rock, Richie Brockelman, Private Eye, Hooperman, The Committee, The Last Starfighter)

1941 – Robert Foxworth (actor: Falcon Crest, Storefront Lawyers, Double Standard, Ants, Frankenstein, Damien: Omen 2)

1949 – Jeannie Berlin (actress: The Heartbreak Kid, Portnoy’s Complaint, In the Spirit, The Baby Maker)

1958 – Rachel Ticotin (actress: The Wharf Rat, Natural Born Killers, Don Juan DeMarco, One Good Cop, Total Recall, Fort Apache, the Bronx, Ohara, For Love and Honor, Crime & Punishment)

1972 – Toni Collette (actress: The Sixth Sense, Muriel’s Wedding, Clockwatchers, Diana & Me, 8′ Women, Shaft [2000]; Broadway: The Wild Party)

1972 – Jenny McCarthy (model: Playboy’s Playmate of the Year [1994]; hostess of MTV’s Singled Out; actress: Silk Stalkings, Baywatch, Wings, Home Improvement, The Jenny McCarthy Show, Diamonds, Scream 3)


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