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Leonard H. Goldenson collection

Identifier: 2242

Scope and Content

The Leonard H. Goldenson collection consists of material relating to the day to day operations of the American Broadcasting Company and the activities of Leonard H. Goldenson, its president from 1953 to 1986. The collection consists mainly of correspondence and artifacts, as well as scrapbooks, ephemera, newspaper clippings, photographs, VHS film, and audio.

A sizeable amount of the collection is dedicated to Leonard H. Goldenson's founding of and continued philanthropic efforts with United Cerebral Palsy. There is also material relating to Goldenson's autobiography Beating The Odds.


  • 1915 - 1994


Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.


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.


242 Linear Feet (242 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Leonard H. Goldenson collection documents the activities of the American Broadcasting System network in the United States and its interests outside of the country. The collection includes memoranda, correspondence, reports, speeches, reports, policy statements, scant photographs and a small amount of legal and financial papers. Although incomplete at several levels, the collection offers representative coverage of operations in advertising, programming, research, sales, television, and news and public affairs broadcasting and the expansion of the network into the movie industry primarily from the 1950's through the late 1960's.


This collection is organized into three series: Business Records Part 1, Personal Papers, and Business Records Part 2. All three parts of the collection were processed prior to their arrival at USC.

Two principal archivists processed the majority of the collection. The first series, Business Records Part 1, having been processed by the first archivist, and the remaining two series processed later by the other. Rather than integrate the last acquisition of Business Records into an already completed series of Business Records, the second archivist instead created a third series.

Finding Aid for the Leonard H. Goldenson collection
John Brockman
2011 September
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Script of description
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Collection processing and creation of the finding aid was funded by the generous support of the National Historic Publications and Records Commission.

Revision Statements

  • 2023 January: Finding aid updated by Marissa Chavez for History Associates Incorporated.

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Cinematic Arts Library Repository

Doheny Memorial Library G4
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0185 United States