Hollywood executive John Calley, who held high-level positions at three studios and later produced The Da Vinci Code movie among many others, died on Tuesday at age 81, his representatives said.

Calley passed away at his home in Los Angeles after a lengthy illness, said Steve Elzer, a spokesman for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The Hollywood executive described by colleagues as erudite and humorous was hired at Sony Pictures in 1996 as president and chief operating officer. He was promoted in 1998 to become the studio's chairman and chief executive officer, and retired in 2003.

Calley came to Sony Pictures as the studio was coming off a tumultuous period under the former leadership of Peter Guber. During Calley's tenure at the studio, he oversaw the production of a number of box office hits, such as Men in Black (1997), As Good As It Gets (1997) and Spider-Man (2002).

Under his leadership, the studio also produced hit television shows such as The King of Queens and Dawson's Creek, and it saw growth in its home entertainment and international businesses, the studio said.

Calley remained active in the movie business after his 2003 departure from Sony Pictures, as he produced the 2006 movie The Da Vinci Code, which made $758 million at worldwide box offices, as well as the 2009 sequel Angels & Demons.

Calley was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1930 and joined the entertainment industry at age 21 by landing a job in the NBC mailroom in New York.

In the 1960s, Calley worked at a company called Filmways Inc. before joining Warner Bros in 1969, where he served there for 13 years and became head of production, president and vice chairman. The studio's hits during that period included Dirty Harry, A Clockwork Orange and Blazing Saddles.

As head of production for Warner Brothers, he was responsible for many of the best of American movies in the Golden Age of the '70s, actress Candice Bergen said in a statement.

Calley described that period, which marked a transition in Hollywood as the old studio system gave way to a different style of films that were grittier and more controversial, in a 1999 interview. We were all young, it was our time, and it was very exciting, Calley told the Los Angeles Times.

After leaving Warner Bros and taking an extensive break from the film industry, Calley joined MGM/United Artists Pictures in 1993 as president and chief operating officer and worked there until his move to Sony in 1996.

In 2009, he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, which is given to movie producers, from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.