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Sumner Redstone, Media And Movie Theater Mogul, Dies At 97

Sumner Redstone, Media And Movie Theater Mogul, Dies At 97

The owner and chairman of National Amusements died Tuesday.

The Man: At 97 years old, Sumner Redstone had built an impressive dynasty founded on CBS Corporation and Viacom, whose assets include the BET Networks, MTV and Paramount Pictures.

"Over the course of his distinguished life and career, Sumner played a critical role in shaping the landscape of the modern media and entertainment industry," the company said in a press release. "At National Amusements, he transformed a regional theater chain into a world leader in the motion picture exhibition industry."

The Life: The World War II veteran got his start decoding Japanese correspondence as an Army first lieutenant. He went on to get his law degree, work for the U.S. attorney general and tax division of the Department of Justice, and open a private practice.

Redstone joined his father’s National Amusements theater chain in 1954 and inherited it by 1967. While CEO, he shifted the focus from distribution to content production, led the acquisition of Viacom and its parent CBS, orchestrated their reunion, and managed their eventual split.

Until recently, his daughter, Shari, fought to merge the brands once more. The two media companies merged in 2019 to form ViacomCBS (NASDAQ: VIAC).

He relinquished his chairmanship of both subsidiaries following a court-ordered geriatric psych examination in 2016.

The Legacy: Redstone, a controlling shareholder of both CBS and Viacom at the time of his death, was worth $4.9 billion.

More than $216 million of his earnings had gone to charity throughout his life. Recipients included research centers for cancer and burn recovery, the Global Poverty Project, Autism Speaks and the GO Campaign.

Sumner Redstone (Photo: Business Wire)


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