Early in his career, worked as a song promoter, or "plugger."
Along with his brother Jack and friend Joe Brandt, started a film studio, CBC Film Sales Company, which in 1924, evolved into Columbia Pictures.
In 1928, hired director Frank Capra, whose creative vision in blockbuster films such as the 1935 Oscar winner It Happened One Night and 1938's You Can't Take It with You led Columbia to become one of Hollywood's most profitable studios.
Seized full control of Columbia from his brother, with whom he didn't get along, and became infamous for being a nightmare to work for, earning nicknames such as "White Fang."
Branched out into TV production with a successful unit called Screen Gems.