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Man Who Bragged He'd Live Forever Has Died

Sumner Redstone was 97
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 12, 2020 7:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – Sumner Redstone, who built a media empire from his family's drive-in movie chain, has died. He was 97. Redstone built the company through aggressive acquisitions, but many headlines with his name focused on severed ties with wives, actors, and executives. His tight-fisted grip on the National Amusements theater chain, which controlled CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. through voting stock, was passed to his daughter Shari Redstone, who battled top executives to re-merge the two entities that split in 2006, reports the AP. Redstone "often boasted that he would live forever," per CNBC, and did barely survive a 1979 fire at Boston’s Copley Plaza hotel in which he suffered third-degree burns on nearly half his body. Three excerpts from standout obituaries of Redstone:

  • Hollywood Reporter: "Like William Randolph Hearst before him, Redstone ruled like a king, his companies and employees subject to his whims. In 2006, he famously fired Mission: Impossible star Tom Cruise after the actor jumped on Oprah Winfrey’s couch during an interview. 'His behavior was terrible,' Redstone said while also acknowledging that Cruise was 'getting paid $10 million, on the lot, for doing nothing.' Six years later, he reconciled with Cruise and said he and the star were 'best friends.'"
  • CNBC: "Redstone’s health had been the focus of much speculation in his later years. With CBS and Viacom in merger talks in the spring of 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that he was unable to speak much. Citing people who had been with him, the newspaper said the notoriously autocratic Redstone had an iPad connected to buttons to activate his recorded voice uttering 'yes,' 'no' and 'f--- you.'”
  • Variety: "Redstone was among the last of a breed, a strong-willed in the mold of William Randolph Hearst and William Paley, who may be remembered as much for the battles he fought as for the successes he achieved in the entertainment business. He amassed some of the best-known holdings in the industry, including CBS, Paramount Pictures, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and Showtime. He was credited with coining the phrase 'content is king,' a mantra borrowed by many other media executives."
(Read more obituary stories.)

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