REDSTONE, SUMNER MURRAY


REDSTONE, SUMNER MURRAY
REDSTONE, SUMNER MURRAY (Ostrovsky; 1923– ), U.S. entertainment executive. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Redstone attended Boston Latin School, the oldest public high school in the United States, graduating at the top of his class in 1940. While attending Harvard University, Redstone studied German and Japanese. In 1943, he was selected to join a team that successfully broke a secret Japanese code. After a two-year stint in the Army, Redstone entered Harvard Law School in 1947. After law school, he worked first as special assistant to U.S. attorney general Tom Clark before joining private practice. In 1954 he joined the family business, Redstone Management, which owned movie theaters, building up the company's drive-ins. In the early 1960s, he served as president of the Theater Owners of America. In 1968, as president and CEO of the growing family business, which had been renamed National Amusements, Redstone began converting his properties into multi-screen theaters, which he called "multiplexes," a term he trademarked. In 1977, he purchased a 5 percent stake in 20th Century Fox after viewing the film Star Wars; the investment netted him $20 million when he sold the stock in 1981. In 1979, he was caught in a fire at Boston's Copely Plaza Hotel, during which he suffered third-degree burns over 45 percent of his body. He underwent five operations, which lasted 60 hours. Redstone went on to invest in Columbia Pictures and MGM/UA, earning $40 million. In 1987, Redstone bought Viacom Pictures for $3.2 billion and then took the company public the next day. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he battled for control of studios, finally acquiring Paramount. In 1996, Redstone was elected CEO of Viacom, and by 2000 National Amusements' holdings would include CBS, Blockbuster, Simon and Schuster, Showtime Networks, 18 television stations, and movie theaters in 12 countries. In 2001, he released his biography, A Passion to Win. In 2004, Redstone announced he was stepping down as CEO of Viacom by 2006. Redstone also served in leadership roles for various nonprofits, including the Combined Jewish Philathropies of Greater Boston, and was a visiting professor at Brandeis University. (Adam Wills (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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