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Leonard Goldenson

Leonard Goldenson

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Leonard H. Goldenson was President of the U.S. television and radio broadcaster ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

.

Early life and career


Goldenson was born in Pennsylvania in 1905 and grew up in the town of Scottdale, Pennsylvania
Scottdale, Pennsylvania
Scottdale is a borough in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh. Scottdale is the home of the Southmoreland Scotties. Early in the 20th century, Scottdale was the center of the Frick coke interests...

 and graduated from Scottdale High School. He is arguably the most influential person from Scottdale. He was educated at Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, and entered the entertainment industry in 1933 as an attorney for Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

 after graduating from Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, United States and is widely recognized as one of the top business schools in the world. The school offers the world's largest full-time MBA program, doctoral programs, and many executive...

. Goldenson was hired to help reorganize United Paramount Theatres
United Paramount Theatres
Plitt Theatres was one of the largest chain of cinemas in the United States.The theater chain was divested from Paramount Pictures as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. ....

, Paramount's theater chain, which at the time was nearing bankruptcy. So skillful was his work at this assignment that Paramount's chief executive officer, Barney Balaban
Barney Balaban
Barney Balaban was president of Paramount Pictures from 1936 to 1964, and innovator in the cinema industry. The eldest of the seven sons of grocery store owner Israel Balaban, Barney worked as a messenger boy and a cold storage company employee until 1908, when he was persuaded, at age 21, to go...

, hired Goldenson to manage the entire chain.

Career at ABC


Goldenson orchestrated the merger of United Paramount Theatres with ABC in 1953 (after Paramount was ordered to spin it off in the wake of United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.
United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.
United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., 334 US 131 was a landmark United States Supreme Court anti-trust case that decided the fate of movie studios owning their own theatres and holding exclusivity rights on which theatres would...

, a 1948 decree of the U.S. Supreme Court). ABC was originally formed in 1943 in the wake of an earlier Supreme Court decree effectively ordering the spinoff of the largely secondary-status Blue Network
Blue Network
The Blue Network, and its immediate predecessor, the NBC Blue Network, were the on-air names of an American radio production and distribution service from 1927 to 1945...

from its then-parent, NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

; its buyer, industrialist Edward J. Noble, tried valiantly to build ABC into an innovative and competitive broadcaster, but by 1951 was rumored to be on the verge of selling the nearly bankrupt operation to CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

, who apparently wanted ABC's critically important owned-and-operated television station
Owned-and-operated station
In the broadcasting industry , an owned-and-operated station usually refers to a television station or radio station that is owned by the network with which it is associated...

s.

Goldenson rescued ABC with a $25 million cash infusion, becoming the founding chairman of the merged company which was named American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres. The modern ABC dates its history from the effective date of the Goldenson transaction, and not the Blue Network spinoff.

Although he focused chiefly on ABC Television
ABC Television
ABC Television is a service of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation launched in 1956. As a public broadcasting broadcaster, the ABC provides four non-commercial channels within Australia, and a partially advertising-funded satellite channel overseas....

, Goldenson oversaw all areas of ABC-Paramount's entertainment/media operations for over thirty years, from 1951 to 1986, including the creation of the AmPar Record Corporation in 1955 and the 'rebadging' of the ABC-Paramount group as the American Broadcasting Company in 1968. Goldenson also was instrumental in the sale of ABC to Capital Cities Communications
Capital Cities Communications
Capital Cities redirects here. For the article about the seat of a government, see Capital .Capital Cities Communications was an American media company best known for its surprise purchase of the much larger American Broadcasting Company in 1985...

 in 1986. Very early on in his tenure, Goldenson also hired the first African-American staff announcer in network television and radio history, Sid McCoy.

Personal life


Goldenson, whose first-born daughter was born with cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive, non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development, chiefly in the various areas of body movement....

, co-founded United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy is an international nonprofit charitable organization consisting of a network of affiliates. UCP is a leading service provider and advocate for adults and children with disabilities, including cerebral palsy...

 in 1949 and used station WBKB
WBBM-TV
WBBM-TV, virtual channel 2 , is the CBS owned-and-operated television station in Chicago, Illinois. WBBM-TV's main studios and offices are located in The Loop section of Chicago, as part of the development at Block 37, and its transmitter is atop the Willis Tower.-History:WBBM-TV traces its history...

 (at the time owned by United Paramount Theatres) to be the flagship station for the inauguaral UCP telethon that year.

In 1974, Mr. Goldenson received The Hundred Year Association of New York
The Hundred Year Association of New York
The Hundred Year Association of New York, founded in 1927, is a non-profit organization in New York City aimed at recognizing and rewarding dedication and service to the City of New York by businesses and organizations that have been in operation in the city for a century or more and by individuals...

's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York."

The Leonard H. Goldenson Theater at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences building in North Hollywood, California is named in his honor.

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