After buying a brewery, a car-wax company and a jukebox manufacturer, he further insinuated himself into the entertainment business in 1962 by buying General Artists Corporation, a talent agency that represented, among others, Pat Boone, Perry Como and Jackie Gleason.
In 1965, after building a base at the Baldwin-Montrose Chemical Company, he netted $2.5 million from a failed bid for Paramount Pictures, then acquired the boat maker Chris-Craft Industries, where he served as chairman. His goal was to buy undervalued companies, funnel their earnings to Chris-Craft’s income statement and sell these investments for a capital gain.
“At 28, I was the youngest chairman of a company on the American Stock Exchange,” he told The New York Times in 1984.
He sold off Chris-Craft’s boat-making business and charmed Wall Street, despite losses at the company’s chemical division, the largest manufacturer of the insecticide DDT, and its television division.
He lost an eight-year bid to acquire Piper Aircraft, but in 1980 he sold his stake in 20th Century Fox, which he had begun accumulating two years earlier, for $74 million, collecting a profit of more than $800 million once Chris Craft Industries settled an acrimonious dispute that enabled Warner Communications to merge with Time Inc.