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Sidney Sheldon (February 11, 1917 – January 30, 2007) was an American writer. His TV works spanned a 20-year period during which he created The Patty Duke Show (1963-66), I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70) and Hart to Hart (1979–84), but it was not until after he turned 50 and began writing best-selling novels such as Master of the Game (1982), The Other Side of Midnight (1973) and Rage of Angels (1980) that he became most famous.

Life and career

Sheldon was born Sidney Schechtel in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker, to parents of Russian Jewish ancestry, Ascher "Otto" Schechtel (1894-1967), manager of a jewelry store, and Natalie Marcus. At 10, he made his first sale, $5 for a poem. During the Depression, he worked at a variety of jobs, attended Northwestern Universitymarker and contributed short plays to drama groups.

In 1937 he moved to Hollywoodmarker, California, where he reviewed scripts and collaborated on a number of B movies. After serving in the military during World War II as a pilot in the War Training Service, a branch of the Army Air Corps, Sheldon returned to civilian life and moved to New York where he began writing musicals for the Broadway stage while continuing to write screenplays for both MGM Studios and Paramount Pictures. He earned a reputation as a prolific writer; for example, at one time he had three musicals on Broadway: a rewritten The Merry Widow, Jackpot, and Dream with Music. His success on Broadway brought him back to Hollywood where his first assignment was The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, which earned him the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay of 1947.

When television became the new hot medium, he decided to try his hand in it. "I suppose I needed money," he remembered. "I met Patty Duke one day at lunch. So I produced The Patty Duke Show, and I did something nobody else in TV ever did. For seven years, I wrote almost every single episode of the series." He also wrote for the series Hart to Hart and Nancy. Most famously he wrote the series I Dream of Jeannie, which he also created and produced, which lasted for five seasons from 1965–1970. It was "During the last year of I Dream of Jeannie, I decided to try a novel," he said in 1982. "Each morning from 9 until noon, I had a secretary at the studio take all calls. I mean every single call. I wrote each morning - or rather, dictated - and then I faced the TV business."

In 1969, Sheldon wrote his first novel, The Naked Face, which earned him a nomination for the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America in the category of Best First Novel. His next novel, The Other Side of Midnight, went to #1 on The New York Times bestseller list as did several ensuing novels, a number of which were also made into motion pictures or TV miniseries.

His novels often featured determined women who persevere in a tough world run by hostile men. The novels contained a lot of suspense and devices to keep the reader turning the page:

Most of his readers were women. Asked why this was the case he said: "I like to write about women who are talented and capable, but most important, retain their femininity. Women have tremendous power - their femininity, because men can't do without it." Books were Sheldon's favorite medium. "I love writing books," he commented. "Movies are a collaborative medium, and everyone is second-guessing you. When you do a novel you're on your own. It's a freedom that doesn't exist in any other medium."

Sheldon was married for 30 years to Jorja Curtright Sheldon, a stage and film actress who later became an accomplished and well known interior designer. She died of a heart attack in 1985. He then remarried Alexandra Kostoff, a former child actress and advertising executive of Macedonianmarker origin, in Las Vegas in 1989. His daughter, Mary Sheldon, became a novelist in her own right.

He struggled with bipolar disorder for years; he contemplated suicide at 17 (talked out of it by his father, who discovered him), as detailed in his autobiography published in 2005, The Other Side of Me

Sheldon died from complication arising from pneumonia at Eisenhower Medical Centermarker in Rancho Mirage, Californiamarker.

He was cremated. His ashes were interred in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemeterymarker.

Awards

Sheldon won an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay (1947) for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, a Tony Award (1959) for his musical Redhead, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on I Dream of Jeannie, an NBC sitcom.

Bibliography

Autobiography



Broadway Plays



Films



Television

Sheldon created, produced and wrote I Dream of Jeannie in his co-production capacity with Screen Gems. He wrote all but two dozen scripts in five years, sometimes using three pseudonyms {"Mark Rowane", "Allan Devon", "Christopher Golato"}, while simultaneously writing scripts for "The Patty Duke Show". He also used the same pseudonyms in writing all seventeen episodes of Nancymarker. Sheldon did this because, as he later admitted, he felt his name was appearing too often in the credits as creator, producer, copyright owner and writer of his TV series.

See also



References

  1. "Author Sidney Sheldon dies at 89", Associated Press, 30 January 2007. Archive copy.
  2. Sidney Sheldon
  3. Sidney Sheldon's biography
  4. "Sidney Sheldon, Author of Steamy Novels, Dies at 89", The New York Times, 31 January 2007.


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