William S. Paley, the cigar-maker's son who bought a fledgling radio network for $400,000 in 1928 and turned it into the $3 billion-a-year communications conglomerate known as CBS Inc., died Friday. He was 89.
Paley died at his Manhattan home at 11 p.m., said CBS spokeswoman Ann Morfogen.He controlled the Columbia Broadcasting System for more than half a century as president or board chairman of its radio and television networks and its film, publishing, recording and other subsidiaries.
More than a decade after normal retirement age, he was still reporting for work at his sumptuous office atop "Black Rock," the black marble-faced tower in midtown Manhattan housing CBS headquarters, and giving the final approval to all major policy decisions.
In April 1983, he turned the reins of CBS Inc. over to Thomas H. Wyman. Wyman, only the second chairman in the company's history, had been president and chief executive officer since 1980; he announced Paley would stay on as a consultant, director and chairman of the board of directors' executive committee.
But when CBS's biggest stockholder, Loew's Corp., became unhappy with Wyman's policies, Paley teamed with Loew's Chairman Lawrence Tisch in 1986 to retake control, Paley as chairman and Tisch as president and chief executive officer.