Sidney Sheldon (Feb 11, 1917 - Jan 30, 2007) is one of the world's handful of top bestselling authors
who have sold more than 250 million books. He is also the only writer to have
won an Oscar, a Tony, and an Edgar, and one of the most translated writers in
During his long life he enjoyed three careers a Broadway playwright, a Hollywood TV and movie screenwriter, and a best-selling novelist. Some of his most famous TV works include I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70) and The Patty Duke Show (1963-66). In his 50s he turned to novel-writing, creating bestselling novels such as Master of the Game (1982) and The Other Side of Midnight (1973). He once declared that despite winning awards for scriptwriting, it was in writing novels that he had the most fun: his signature format was gutsy yet feminine women fighting for survival in a world of malevolent men.
He was born Sidney Schechtel in Chicago, Illinois, to a German Jewish father and a Russian Jewish mother. He made his first sale, a poem for $10, at the age of 10. He attended Northwestern University before moving to Hollywood in 1937 where he reviewed scripts and collaborated on a number of B-movies.
During World War II he served as a pilot in the War Training Service, a branch of the Army Air Corps,. After the war he moved to New York where he began to write musicals while also writing screenplays for both MGM and Paramount. By 1947 he was back in Hollywood where he won the Academy Award for best original screenplay of 1947 for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer.
He produced The Patty Duke Show for seven years, writing almost every episode. He also wrote the TV series Hart to Hart, Nancy and I Dream of Jeannie, which he created and produced for five seasons from 1965-1970.
He wrote his first novel while working on I Dream of Jeannie. The Naked Face won the Best First Novel Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America. His next novel, The Other Side of Midnight, was a #1 New York Times bestseller, as were a number of his follow up novels, which were also made into movies or TV miniseries. In addition, he published his memoirs, The Other Side of Me, in 2005 .
Sheldon was married to Jorja Curtright Sheldon for 30 years, a stage and film actress who later became a well known interior designer; she died in 1985 of a heart attack. He then married Alexandra Kostoff, a former child actress and advertising executive, in 1989.
He died in California on January 30, 2007 at the age of 89.
This biography was last updated on 07/02/2011.
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An Interview with Sidney Sheldon
What did you do before you wrote your first novel?
I was busy writing other things. I wrote 28 motion pictures, 250 television scripts and 8 Broadway plays.
Did you expect your first novel, The Naked Face, to be a success?
I was certain that The Naked Face would break all literary records -- that it would not sell one single copy! I was so sure of it that I went into a bookstore and bought a copy. Since then, it has become a superstition. On the day that a new novel of mine comes out, I always go into a bookstore and buy one copy.
Is there much difference between writing a novel and a television series or movie?
There are differences among the various forms of the medium. A motion picture script is a kind of shorthand. You don't describe your leading man in detail because if you write that he is tall, lanky and laconic and Clint Eastwood turns you down and you give the script to Dustin Hoffman, you're in big trouble. So you merely characterize him as handsome or elderly or whatever the story calls for. You don't describe the rooms in details because the best set decorators in Hollywood are going to do those rooms.
The advantage of writing a motion picture is that the ...
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