Former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has died

(Fox News) - Roger Ailes, who built Fox News into a cable powerhouse before leaving the company last year, died at the age of 77.

Roger Ailes, Fox News

The Ohio-born television pioneer was a confidante of presidents and a acknowledged master of communications. He resigned from Fox in July amid charges of sexual harrassment.

His widow, Elizabeth Ailes, confirmed the news in a statement.

"I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning," the statement read. "Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise—and to give back."

Ailes left Fox News under a cloud of controversy last August. The sequence of events that led to his departure began when Gretchen Carlson sued him after her contract as a daytime Fox host was not renewed. Ailes strongly denied her allegations of sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

At the time of Ailes' his departure, Executive Chairman of News Corp Rupert Murdoch said, "Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country ... Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.”

Ailes was born in Warren, Ohio, and attended Ohio University in Athens, where he majored in radio and television.

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