Sumner Redstone Dies at 97

sumner redstone viacomcbs
(Photo: John Shearer/Getty Images)

Sumner Redstone, a media mogul who owned the controlling stake in ViacomCBS, has passed away at the age of 97. Redstone famously turned his father's drive-in movie theater chain into a massive media empire, engineering deals for the likes of CBS, Viacom, and Paramount over the years. It was Redstone who coined the phrase "content is king," and helped lead Viacom and CBS to their recent merger. He had been in declining health over the past couple of years.

The news of Redstone's death was announced in a statement from his company, National Amusements, through which his family controls ViacomCBS.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Sumner M. Redstone, the self-made businessman, philanthropist and World War II veteran who built one of the largest collections of media assets in the world," reads the statement. "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 – which he built into prominent, international and industry-leading conglomerates in the media industry.

"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."

“My father led an extraordinary life that not only shaped entertainment as we know it today, but created an incredible family legacy," said Redstone's daughter, Through it all, we shared a great love for one another and he was a wonderful father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I am so proud to be his daughter and I will miss him always.”

"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," ViacomCBS CEO and President Bob Bakish said in a statement. "He was a force of nature and fierce competitor, who leaves behind 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."

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The deal to merge Viacom and CBS into what is now ViacomCBS was overseen by the Redstones and was completed back in October.

Photo Credit: John Shearer/Getty Images