ViacomCBS Controlling Shareholder Sumner Redstone Dies


Sumner Redstone, a towering figure in the media industry who served as Chairman/CEO of National Amusements, Inc., and was the controlling shareholder of what is now ViacomCBS, has died.

He was 97 years old.

At the time of his death, Redstone served as Chairman Emeritus of a company reunified on Dec. 4, 2019 — a move largely orchestrated by his daughter, Shari Redstone, who serves as NAI President and ViacomCBS chair.




In a statement, ViacomCBS President/CEO Bob Bakish, who earned the position despite failed efforts in early 2018 by then-CBS Chairman/CEO Les Moonves to thwart a takeover, called Sumner Redstone “a brilliant visionary, operator and dealmaker, who single-handedly transformed a family-owned drive-in theater company into a global media portfolio.”

Bakish continued, “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.”

For nearly 30 years, Mr. Redstone led Viacom as Executive Chairman of the Board following National Amusements Inc.’s acquisition of a $3.4 billion controlling stake in the company in 1987. He also held the position of CEO from 1996 until 2005, during which time Viacom merged with CBS Corporation in 2000. Upon the separation of the two companies in December 2005, Mr. Redstone served as Executive Chairman of the Boards of CBS and Viacom. In February 2016, Mr. Redstone assumed the role of Chairman Emeritus for both companies.

NAI’s holdings include Showcase Cinemas. It issued its own statement Wednesday morning (8/12), calling Sumner Redstone a “self-made businessman, philanthropist and World War II veteran who built one of the largest collections of media assets in the world.”

The NAI statement continued, “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. At National Amusements, he transformed a regional theater chain into a world leader in the motion picture exhibition industry. Sumner was also a keen investor who took stakes in a variety of companies, including Viacom Inc. and CBS Corporation — today merged as ViacomCBS.

“Sumner was a man of unrivaled passion and perseverance, who devoted his life to his belief in the power of content. 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 greatly missed by his family who take comfort knowing that his legacy will live on for generations to come.”

Redstone was born in Boston on May 27, 1923 to Belle Ostrovsky and Max Rothstein. His father, who later changed his name to Michael Redstone, supported his family by peddling linoleum from the back of a truck.

Eventually, Michael Redstone saved enough money to buy a drive-in movie theater in Valley Stream, a Nassau County, N.Y., community. Following the success of this initial investment, Michael Redstone went on to acquire other theaters and nightclubs and create the Northeast Theater Corporation, later renamed National Amusements.

Sumner Redstone initially had other plans: After completing his military service, he received an L.L.B. from Harvard University School of Law in 1947 – later amended to a Juris Doctorate – and began his career as a Law Secretary with the United States Court of Appeals and then as Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General.

In 1951, Mr. Redstone was named Partner of the Washington D.C. law firm Ford, Bergson, Adams, Borkland & Redstone. Three years later, in 1954, Sumner Redstone joined NAI.


National Amusements, a company run by 95-year-old billionaire media magnate Sumner Redstone, and his daughter Shari, is the controlling shareholder of both CBS and Viacom. The Redstones have sought to merge CBS and Viacom. CBS is fighting the proposed merger. That’s the back-story of a high-stakes corporate soap opera. Here’s the latest episode.

Sumner Redstone To Bid Farewell To Viacom Board

Redstone will continue to participate in meetings of the Board in a non-voting role after Viacom’s Feb. 6 board meeting

Sumner Redstone Estate Drama Escalates

Philippe Dauman and George Abrams sue Sumner Redstone over trust removal.

Sumner Redstone’s Trust Stunner

Sumner Redstone cuts Viacom’s Dauman from trust that will control CBS & Viacom.

Sumner Redstone sells some $236M in CBS, Viacom shares

Just before his 91st birthday on 5/27, the CBS Corp. and Viacom Executive Chairman has sold $236 million in

Viacom board re-elects Sumner Redstone

Viacom investors have reelected all of the company’s board members, including billionaire executive chairman Sumner Redstone. Viacom held its 2014 annual meeting for investors this week

Sumner Redstone wins court battle with nephew

The long legal battle by Michael Redstone to claim shares of National Amusements Inc. (NAI) that he believed were improperly taken from him had…

It’s Official: Redstone Reunification Set For CBS, Viacom

At precisely 2:14pm Eastern, CBS Corp. confirmed what nearly everyone who follows the broadcast media industry already anticipated. CBS is combining with Viacom some 13 years and eight months after CBS spun-off from Viacom to create two separate companies.

Redstone Hits Back at CBS and Moonves

Things continue to heat up between Shari Redstone’s National Amusements and the CBS CEO. The Redstone family — which owns a controlling interest in CBS and Viacom — filed a complaint in Delaware Chancery Court, Monday, against Moonves and his fellow CBS directors.

Redstone Case to Continue

There will be no quick end to the court battles between Sumner Redstone and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.

Redstone Moves to Overhaul Viacom Board

National Amusements moves to fire 5 directors from Viacom board.

Redstone’s Competency at Issue in Hearing

Dauman, Abrams try to block their ouster from Viacom in hearing on Redstone’s mental state.

Redstone Okay With CBS Radio Spin

CBS Corp. Chair/CEO Leslie Moonves says Sumner Redstone approves of the radio plan.

No More Salary for Redstone

The Viacom board has voted to discontinue paying Sumner Redstone a salary.