Billionaire Sumner Redstone
Viacom’s Sumner Redstone in 2014. Photo via

Sumner Redstone, a towering media figure who converted his father’s drive-in theater business into an empire that included Viacom, Paramount Pictures and CBS Corp., has died. He was 97.

Redstone died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles, Variety reported.

ViacomCBS chairman Shari Redstone, with whom Redstone had high-profile legal battles before the two reconciled, told Variety in a statement Wednesday morning:

“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.”

The Boston-bred mogul ruled his businesses with an iron fist but was forced to step down as chairman of CBS and Viacom in February 2016 amid pressure from shareholders and activists questioning his mental capacity.

At the time of his death, he served as ViacomCBS chairman emeritus and chairman-CEO of National Amusements, the Redstone family’s private holding company, which controls what is now ViacomCBS.

“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,” said ViacomCBS president-CEO Bob Bakish in a statement. “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.”

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