Sumner Redstone, Media Mogul and Controlling ViacomCBS Shareholder, Dies at 97

August 12, 2020

Media mogul Sumner Redstone, the controlling shareholder of ViacomCBS, died Tuesday afternoon. He was 97.

National Amusements, the Redstone family’s private holding company that controls ViacomCBS, announced his death Wednesday morning.

“Sumner Redstone was a brilliant visionary, operator and dealmaker, who single-handedly transformed a family-owned drive-in theater company into a global media portfolio," said ViacomCBS CEO and President Bob Bakish. "He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind a profound legacy in both business and philanthropy,” “ViacomCBS will remember Sumner for his unparalleled passion to win, his endless intellectual curiosity, and his complete dedication to the company. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Redstone family today.”

Redstone, who was born in Boston, had a net work of $3 billion, according to Forbes.

Redstone's father founded the cinema chain now known as National Amusements in 1936. Nearly 20 years later, in 1954, Redstone took over the company. 

Fast forward a few decades, and Redstone acquired control of Viacom in 1987 and spun off CBS in 2006.

But in December 2019, the two companies -- one, a powerhouse broadcast network, the other, a staple of popular cable TV brands -- were reunited in a merger. 

In February 2016, at age 92, Redstone resigned his chairmanships at CBS and Viacom, following a court-ordered examination by a geriatric psychiatrist. He was ultimately succeeded by Les Moonves at CBS and Philippe Dauman at Viacom.

Redstone's daughter, Shari, 66, serves as the non-executive chair of ViacomCBS. Redstone also has a son, Brent.

Redstone was first married to Phyllis Gloria Raphael in 1947 (mom of Shari and Brent), with that marriage ending in divorce in 1999. He then married Paula Fortunato in 2002, divorcing in 2009.

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