Pioneering TV executive Leonard H. Goldenson, 94, who in the early 1950s raised a struggling ABC network to compete on equal footing with CBS and NBC, died Monday at his home in Longboat Key, near Sarasota. ABC, which announced his passing, gave no cause of death but said he had been in ill health for several years. In his day Goldenson was overshadowed in the public eye by the overlords of the other two networks, William Paley of CBS and David Sarnoff of NBC, but among his -- and his company's -- accomplishments were "Disneyland" (both the show and the amusement park, which ABC helped finance) and, in the late '70s (when the network became No. 1 in the ratings), "Roots," "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley" and "Charlie's Angels." By the time he retired in 1986, Goldenson had engineered a $3.5 billion merger of ABC and Capital Cities Broadcasting. Cap Cities/ABC was bought by Disney for a then-record $19 billion in 1996.
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