As the company became increasingly successful, Paley became a millionaire, and moved his family to Philadelphia in the early 1920s. William Paley matriculated at Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois and later received his college degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in expectation that he would take an increasingly active role running the family cigar business.
In 1927, Paley's father, brother-in-law and some business partners bought a struggling Philadelphia-based radio network of 16 stations called the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System. Samuel Paley's intention was to use his acquisition as an advertising medium for promoting the family's cigar business, which included the La Palina brand. Within a year, under William's leadership, cigar sales had more than doubled, and, in 1928, the Paley family secured majority ownership of the network from their partners. Within a decade, William S. Paley had expanded the network to 114 affiliate stations.
After studying at the School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, William joined his father’s company and was vice-president from 1922 to 1928. Having bought into Columbia (which had been founded in 1926 but was not a financial success), Paley became its president in 1928. His initial investment of some $400,000 was worth over $350 million at the time of his death.
Paley soon had some sixty radio stations that accepted network programming and had developed the system into a giant coast-to-coast net-
Art is not a subjective expression of feeling, or the existential activity of certain individuals, but rather the realizing and objectifying settlement (or conflict), aiming at effective results, between forming power and a material to be overcome.
Erwin Panofsky. Her Begriff des Kunstwollens, work. He had an uncanny gift for recruiting talent and by the 1940s was able to spend huge sums on tempting successful performers to leave his main rival, the NBC network, and join CBS. For years CBS boasted nine or ten of the top ten shows. It was a pioneer in news coverage, of which the star was Edward R. Murrow. It also introduced a high proportion of quality broadcasting such as Saturday afternoon relays of the concerts of the New York Philharmonic.
During World War II Paley was in London where he served, with rank of colonel, as deputy chief of the Psychological Warfare Division of the Allied Command in Europe. Returning to CBS alter the war, he was personally responsible for its further development. He built studios on both coasts and produced game shows, situation comedies, and westerns for a growing audience. In 1948 the company introduced the long-playing record and later also entered the world of filmmaking and publishing. At one time, it even owned the New York Yankees baseball team.
In 1983 Paley handed over the chairmanship of CBS, but when the company ran into problems in 1987, he resumed his position, although he was then eighty-six years old.
Paley had many interests outside CBS. He had considerable investment in the International Herald-Tribune, of which he was a cochairman. He was a trustee of many institutions and the president of the Museum of Modern Art. His own art collection — he specialized in collecting French Postimpressionists — was famous.
Paley was a close friend of Chaim Weizmann whom he assisted on the latter’s visits to the United States. As president of the William Paley Foundation, he made large contributions to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
In 1979, Paley published his memoirs As It Happened. On his death he was characterized by the New York Times as “a 20th-century visionary with the ambitions of a I9th century robber baron.”
Paley died of kidney failure on October 26, 1990. He was 89
Chairman President's Materials Policy Commission which produced report Resources for Freedom, 1951—1952. Member executive committee Resources for the Future, 1952—1969, chairman, 1966—1969, honorary board directors, since 1969. Chairman New York City Task Force on Urban Design which prepared the report The Threatened City, 1967, Urban Design Council City New York, 1968—1971.
Member Commission on Critical Choices for American, 1973—1977. Life trustee Federation Jewish Philanthropies of New York. Trustee Museum Modern Art, 1937—1990, president, 1968—1972, chairman, 1972—1985, chairman emeritus, 1985—1990.
Life trustee Columbia University, 1950—1979, trustee emeritus, 1973—1990. Board directors W. Averell Harriman Institute Advanced Study of Soviet Union, Columbia University. Member Committee for White House Conference on Education, 1954—1956.
President, director William S. Paley Foundation, Greenpark Foundation, Inc. Trustee North Shore University, Hospital, 1949—1973, co-chairman board trustees, 1954—1973. Founding member, director founding member Bedford-Stuyvesant D and S Corporation, director, 1967—1972.
Founder, chairman board founder, chairman board Museum of Broadcasting, 1976—1990. Member Commission for Cultural Affairs, New York City, 1975—1978. Fellow: Royal Society Arts.
Member: National Institute Social Sciences, Academy Political Sciences, Council Foreign Relations, France American Society, Bucks Club (London), Lyford Cay Club (Nassau), Economic Club (New York ), Meadowbrook Club, National Golf Club, Turf and Field Club, The Metropolitan Club (Washington), Century Association, River Club.
Paley was a notorious ladies man his entire life. Indeed, his first marriage to Dorothy ended when a newspaper published a suicide note written to Paley by a former girlfriend. As a result of another relationship, he provided a stipend to a former lover, actress Louise Brooks, for the rest of her life. In his later years, he enjoyed keeping company with several women. Paley was included in a list of the ten most eligible bachelors compiled by Cosmopolitan magazine in 1985; the irony of the octogenarian Paley being on the list was an inspiration for Late Night with David Letterman's nightly Top Ten lists.