John Werner Kluge was born in 1914 in Chemnitz, Germany and moved to the US as a young boy in 1922. He graduated from Columbia University with a BA in economics in 1937. During the 1950s Kluge made his major move into media by buying stock in the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation. At that time Metropolitan consisted of two stations: New York City’s WABD and WTTG in Washington, DC. In 1958 Kluge became the chairman of the board of Metropolitan, and its largest stockholder, buy most of his shares from founder Allen B. DuMont for $6 million.
When Kluge took control of the company in 1959 he began to expand the company’s interests further into broadcasting. At the beginning of the 1960s Kluge purchased an outdoor advertising company, and in order to reflect better the firms more diverse interests the name was changed to Metromedia in 1961.
In 1986 Kluge sold Metromedia to the 20th Century Fox film studio for $4 billion. The next year Forbes placed Kluge at the top of their listing as America’s most wealthy resident.