William S. Paley

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William S. Paley in 1939

William S. Paley (September 28, 1901 – October 26, 1990) was an American pioneer of the television broadcasting business and chief executive officer of CBS for many years.


  • Most educators and students are familiar with Columbia's American School of the Air, which was established in 1930 and today has a weekly audience of millions throughout the school year. These broadcasts, prepared under the supervision of distinguished educators, typify in many ways Columbia's whole roster of educational and cultural programs. In themselves, however, they are a well-planned and cumultative course of education by radio, presented five days a week each autumn, winter, and spring.

As It Happened: A Memoir (1979)[edit]

  • ... My father sold newspapers, then worked in a tobacco factory, and then in a cigar factory, where as an apprentice he came upon his destiny.
    It was not long before my father got the idea of opening a cigar store with one cigar maker working in the front window, which was not uncommon in those days. The cigar maker, sitting at a table in the window, rolling cigars by hand, was not only functional but was an attraction and an advertisement. Passers-by would stop to watch and perhaps come in to buy. Between his factory job and his own store, my father learned all about tobacco and discovered that he had the gift of recognizing the various qualities of tobacco and of blending them in attractive combinations of flavor. It was his particular genius and became his lifelong vocation.
    ... His brand of cigars began selling so well that he decided to go out and sell them to other cigar stores. Eventually he gave up the factory job, put more cigar makers to work in the back room of the store, and found himself in the cigar business. It was a short step from there to opening a cigar factory of his own. He made a good product, built a business, and became successful at an early age. In 1896, the year he was naturalized at the age of twenty-one, he had probably become a millionaire.
  • I had an early passion for reading, especially for Horatio Alger stories. I went to the public library almost every day, and when I found a Horatio Alger book I had not read before, it was like finding a gold mine.

Quotes about Paley[edit]