Beginning with his takeover in 1953 of the fledgling American Broadcasting Company, Leonard Goldenson became one of the most famous pioneers of television history. After being hired to assist in the successful reorganization of near-bankrupt Paramount Pictures, Goldenson then turned to Hollywood in the early 1950s. Competing against broadcasting giants NBC and CBS, Goldenson engineered such successful ABC ventures as American Bandstand, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and The Mickey Mouse Club. Convincing Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Company to partner with ABC and produce TV shows proved to be another successful move for Goldenson, who saw ABC continue to gain ground in the network ratings through the turbulent 1960s. Under Goldenson's leadership, ABC soon emerged as the premier network for sports broadcasting with the addition of ABC's Wide World of Sports, coverage of the Olympic Games, and Monday Night Football. ABC introduced new, innovative ideas to the television landscape such as the TV movie and the miniseries (including 1977's highly awarded Roots). Seeing his once humble enterprise reach the pinnacle of financial success, Goldenson retired in 1986 after selling ABC to Capital Cities, Inc.
Aside from his achievements in the entertainment industry, Goldenson's legacy includes a myriad of philanthrophic endeavors as well. Chief among these is the founding of United Cerebral Palsy in 1949, along with his wife Isabelle, fellow New York businessman Jack Housman, and Housman's wife Ethel. Beginning with a simple advertisement in the New York Herald Tribune, he led the campaign to improve treatment and quality of life for children with developmental disabilities, which resulted in the national organization that continues to strive for those same ideals today.