November 10, 2003 by

Bill Sargent


Categories: Business

H. William “Bill” Sargent Jr., an inventor and master showman, died on Oct. 19 from a heart attack. He was 76.
Sargent was always interested in electronics. At six, he accidentally burned down his home while trying to fix a radio. Undaunted, he became a licensed ham radio operator at nine and an electronics expert who held 400 patents on tape heads, distribution amplifiers and electronic camera components.
In 1959, Sargent moved to Los Angeles and began several expensive schemes that would earn him millions one moment and cost him millions the next. He was the first person to launch pay-per-view television, and the first to distribute a closed-circuit boxing match between Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) and George Logan to over 1,500 U.S. movie theaters.
Producing the highly successful 1979 comedy film, “Richard Pryor: Live in Concert,” earned Sargent enough money to finance a state-of-the-art electronics laboratory in Columbia, Mo. He accidentally burned it down when he placed an acetylene torch on an open 50-gallon drum of lacquer thinner.
The North American Theatre Owners once named him Showman of the Year. Sargent was working on his memoirs when he died.

3 Responses to Bill Sargent

  1. Deborah

    I have been living in St. Louis for the past 10+ years. Today is the first time I knew that Bill had passed away. I truly loved this man. He was my mentor while I studied in LA in the late 80’s. He was tough and to the point and taught me things about the industry that NO school could possibly help you understand. He was a man of vision and genius. I am sure he is teaching others right now. God Bless you Bill. Thanks for all that you gave to me and mine.
    Love, Deb

  2. Serene Tami Sargent

    Bill Sargent was my father. He was visionary, optimistic, and ingenius, combining the unbounded imagination of a child with a sharp and powerful intellect. His prowess for invention, however great, was subjugated again and again by his near compulsion to agitate and inspire. These two talents, when working together, formed a man of uncommon greatness. When the traits came in conflict, he all too often let his love of a righteous fight drown the child-genius. But always, though he was flawed, he gave more generously of his love, his money, and his praise than any man I’ve ever encountered.

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