Former CBS chairman Tom Wyman, 73, died Jan. 8 at Brigham and Women's
Hospital in Boston. According to the Associated Press, he had surgery there
Dec. 15 for an abdominal infection.
Wyman joined CBS as president and CEO in 1980 from The Pillsbury Co., where he had
been vice chairman. He was a veteran top executive of numerous companies with a
reputation for being polished, smart and a people person.
Hand-picked by William Paley for the president post, he succeeded Paley as
chairman of CBS in 1983, but he was removed by Paley and chief shareholder Laurence
Tisch three years later.
The removal was attributable in part to Wyman's decision to entertain an
offer from The Coca-Cola Co. to buy the company.
His resignation followed almost immediately a board of director's vote
against a merger.
The move also followed a Paley pattern, since Wyman's two previous successors
had been summarily dismissed, as well.
Although CBS suffered from a soft national ad market during the last year-and-a-half of Wyman's tenure, and he was stuck with some attempted diversifications
that resulted in hefty writeoffs, operating profits increased for most of his
five-year tenure as CEO and company revenue grew at a compound rate of 7
Wyman was also credited with striking a lucrative home-video deal with 20th
Century Fox, and he oversaw the smoother-than-expected transition from icon
Walter Cronkite to icon-to-be Dan Rather at the evening-news anchor desk.
While Wyman may not have known the broadcasting business when he started at
CBS, his former employers could have been plucked from a list of the network's
advertisers. In addition to Pillsbury, they included Nestlé SA, Green Giant and
Wyman made news again just last month with his resignation from Augusta
National Golf Club (CBS airs The Masters tournament) over its failure to admit