Sumner Redstone, one of a generation of media titans who shaped the modern film and television industry, has passed away at the age of 97.
Mr. Redstone, a Boston native and WWII veteran, transformed a regional drive-in movie chain into a global entertainment empire encompassing the Paramount movie studio and two of America’s largest media companies: Viacom, which home to MTV and Cartoon Network and broadcaster CBS.
One of the most colorful and enduring characters in the industry, he coined the terms “multiplex cinema” and “content is king”. He was CEO of Viacom from 1996 to 2005, after which he went on to serve as executive chairman of the boards of Viacom and CBS.
The billionaire had promised never to give up managing his empire. In 2014, at age 91, he fired his daughter’s prospects as the next head of the family business, saying he “would not discuss succession. . . you know why? I will not die ”.
But as Mr. Redstone aged in recent years, Shari had taken control of the conglomerate. She guided the reunion from Viacom and CBS last year.
Bob Bakish, Managing Director of ViacomCBS, said Mr. Redstone was a “brilliant visionary, operator and negotiator”.
“He was a force of nature and a fierce competitor, who leaves behind a deep legacy in both business and philanthropy,” he said.
National Amusements, the holding company of Redstone, said: “With his passing, the media industry he loved so dearly loses one of its great champions. Sumner, a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather, will be sadly missed by his family who take comfort in knowing that his legacy will live on for generations to come.