Sumner Redstone, a towering figure in media who built his father’s drive-in theater business into an empire that included Viacom, Paramount Pictures and CBS Corp., only to see his legacy tarnished in his final years by corporate battles and sordid allegations by former girlfriends, died Aug. 11 2020 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 97.
He was Chairman of the Board of Former Viacom from 1987 through 2005 and served as Chief Executive Officer of Former Viacom from 1996 through 2005. Mr. Redstone has also served as Chairman of the Board of National Amusements since 1986 and Chief Executive Officer of National Amusements since 1967. He served as President of National Amusements from 1967 through 1999.
Trained as a lawyer, Redstone was fervently litigious throughout his career, especially on antitrust issues, dating back to a landmark lawsuit in 1958 in which his National Amusements theater company accused the major studios of conspiring to avoid offering movies fairly to all exhibitors.
Mr. Redstone served as the first Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Theatre Owners.
Mr. Redstone graduated from Harvard University in 1944 and received a LL.B. from Harvard University School of Law in 1947. Upon graduation, Mr. Redstone served as Law Secretary with the United States Court of Appeals and then as a Special Assistant to the United States Attorney General. Mr. Redstone served in the Military Intelligence Division during World War II.
While a student at Harvard, he was selected to join a special intelligence group whose mission was to break Japan's high-level military and diplomatic codes.
Mr. Redstone was also Chairman of the Board of National Amusements and served as Executive Chairman of the board of directors and Founder of Viacom.
His marriage to Phyllis Raphael ended in 1999 after 52 years. In 2003, he wed former schoolteacher Paula Fortunato, but the union was over by 2008. As part of his divorce settlement with his first wife, Phyllis, it was disclosed that all of Redstone’s stock would be left to his grandchildren. The Redstone Family Trust will inherit National Amusements assets and be run on behalf of the grandchildren by a group of seven trustees.