Jonathan Dolgen, Former Viacom Entertainment Group Chief, Dies at 78

The prominent Hollywood figure died Monday of natural causes while surrounded by family

Jonathan Dolgen
Jonathan Dolgen attends the Annual Fulfillment Fund's Stars 2003 benefit gala in Beverly Hills, California (Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Jonathan Dolgen, the former chairman and CEO of Viacom Entertainment Group, has died. He was 78 years old.

The prominent Hollywood figure died Monday evening at the UCLA Medical Center of natural causes while surrounded by family, per a release from his publicist.

Dolgen became a Wall Street lawyer at Fried, Frank, Haris, Shriver and Jacobsen. He was then recruited to the legal team as Assistant General Counsel at Columbia Pictures, brokering the first studio deal of its kind with HBO.

In 1985 he moved to 20th Century Fox, where he became President of Television. (The Fox Broadcasting Company, or simply Fox, launched the next year to challenge the big three broadcast networks.) Dolgen later worked at Sony Pictures as President of Columbia Pictures Movie Division, which included both Columbia and Tristar; and in 1994 Dolgen became Chairman of Viacom Entertainment. He worked there for the following decade, leading the company in film, television, music, theme parks (at the time they owned and operated theme parks like Paramount’s Kings Dominion and Paramount’s Carowinds) and publishing (with Simon & Shuster). According to his bio, he was a “key part of the team responsible” for such oversized hits as “Titanic,” “Braveheart” and “Forrest Gump” and in the creation of the syndicated television series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

In 2004 he formed Wood River ventures LLC, an “advisory and investing media firm.” And he didn’t really slow down after. In In 2022 Dolgen received the coveted Motion Picture Pioneer of the Year Award.

He is survived by wife Susan, daughters Tamar and Lauren, son-in-law Sergio Bicas, three grandchildren and his brother David Dolgen.


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