Media mogul Sumner Redstone dies aged 97

American billionaire leaves a television and film empire that includes MTV and Paramount Pictures owner ViacomCBS

Sumner Redstone
Sumner Redstone pictured in 1999 Credit: SUZANNE PLUNKETT/AP

Trailblazing media tycoon Sumner Redstone has died at the age of 97.

The US mogul was responsible for transforming his father's drive-in chain National Amusements into a sprawling empire that now encompasses Viacom, Paramount Pictures, CBS and MTV.

Mr Redstone, who often insisted he would live forever, died on Tuesday afternoon at his home in Los Angeles. He had a net worth of $1.7bn (£1.3bn) according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and was credited with helping to save the cinema industry after developing the multiplex chain model in the 1960s.

The 6ft billionaire - who once famously fired Tom Cruise after the star's bizarre performance in an Oprah Winfrey interview - was known for his ruthless approach and became embroiled in several high-profile legal battles with top film executives and even some of his own family.

Sumner Redstone in January 2006 Credit: RICHARD DREW/AP

Shari Redstone, Mr Redstone's once-estranged daughter, effectively took control of her father's business when his health began to deteriorate.

In May 2015, Mr Redstone said that upon his death his ownership in that company would pass to a family trust, whose trustees include his daughter Shari Redstone and her son, Tyler Korff. Mr Redstone also has a son, Brent, who won $240m off his father in 2007 after suing him over a buyback plan.

Ms Redstone, chairman of ViacomCBS, said: “My father led an extraordinary life that not only shaped entertainment as we know it today, but created an incredible family legacy.

“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.”

Ms Redstone has been playing an increasingly active role in recent years. She engineered the ousting of longtime Viacom boss Philippe Dauman and gained the upper hand at CBS after chief executive Les Moonves resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Her strategy led to the December 2019 merger of the two companies - a deal she pushed for to help them compete in the digital-media age.