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Gulf and Western Industries

Gulf and Western Industries, for a number of years known as Gulf+Western, was a United States conglomerate whose legal successor is Viacom.

Its prosaic origins date to a manufacturer named Michigan Bumper Co. founded in 1934, though Charles Bluhdorn treated his 1958 takeover of what was then Michigan Plating & Stamping as its "founding" for the purpose of later anniversaries.

Under Bluhdorn the company diversified widely, leaving behind things like stamping metal bumpers not only for communications properties like Paramount Pictures and Simon and Schuster but clothing (Kayser-Roth, which happened to own the Miss Universe pageant because it had bought Pacific Mills, which had invented the pageant to sell its Catalina swimsuits), cigars, zinc mines, auto parts, Madison Square Garden, and Caribbean sugar plantations.

In 1983 Bluhdorn died on a plane en route home from the sugar plantation to New York headquarters, and the board bypassed president David Judelson and named senior vice president Martin S. Davis, who had come up through Paramount Pictures, as the new Chief Executive Officer. Davis slimmed down the company's wilder diversifications and focussed it on 1989 changing the name to Paramount Communications.

It was under this name that the company was taken over by Viacom. Davis was named a member of the board of National Amusements, which controlled Viacom, but ceased to manage the company.