Media mogul Sumner Redstone has died, after proclaiming “I expect to live forever.” Redstone was 97 when the Grim Reaper crushed the nonagenarian’s hopes, but despite this shortcoming, Redstone excelled in the business world. According to CNBC:
Sumner Redstone, the media mogul who built his family’s drive-in theater chain into a multibillion-dollar empire encompassing CBS and Viacom and later became the center of a jilted lover’s lawsuit that nearly cost his family his financial legacy, has died. He was 97.
It should go without saying that Sumner’s proclamation qualifies him for this week’s “Say What?” Wednesday where I examine some unbelievable statements from politicians and celebrities. Nevertheless, I also can’t help but respect Sumner’s hustle. Redstone lived a colorful life, even into his Golden Years. A report on his death from CNBC noted his zest for living and how it nearly cost him dearly:
A lawsuit filed in November 2015 by an ex-girlfriend 42 years his junior challenged his competency, claiming he had become” a living ghost” and that his conversations had become little more than grunts. Redstone’s lawyers called the claims “preposterous” and a “despicable invasion of his privacy.”
On May 9, 2016, the judge dismissed the lawsuit after the billionaire asserted in videotaped testimony that he didn’t want the former girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, to play any role in his life. He repeatedly referred to her as “f—— b—-.”
Redstone lived an extraordinary life and was the epitome of the man who rose up in the ranks of the entertainment industry. The New York Times described his incredible career:
Beginning with a modest chain of drive-in movie theaters, Mr. Redstone negotiated, sued and otherwise fought to amass holdings that over time included CBS, the Paramount film and television studios, the publisher Simon & Schuster, the video retail giant Blockbuster and a host of cable channels, including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. At their peak, the businesses he controlled were worth more than $80 billion.
Sumner Redstone, who boasted “I look at everything that may be negative as a challenge to be overcome,” he said. “I expect to live forever. And I do everything possible to bring that result about.”
Indeed he did and while other men have sought to defy death, Redstone did so on at least one occasion. According to The New York Times:
At 55, he survived a fire that engulfed his Boston hotel room by clinging to a window ledge while half his body was scorched. “I think I was driven before, but out of that fire came most of the exciting things I have ever done,” he told Forbes magazine.
Although Sumner Redstone’s claim that he would never die qualifies him for “Say What Wednesday,” his incredible joie de vivre is a remarkable example of someone taking life by the balls. When it comes to the world of business, his life story is a study in greatness, something I hope to see on the Redstone headstone.