Sidney Sheldon

Last updated

Sidney Sheldon
Sidney Sheldon.jpg
BornSidney Schechtel
(1917-02-11)February 11, 1917
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJanuary 30, 2007(2007-01-30) (aged 89)
Rancho Mirage, California, United States
Genre Crime fiction,
SpouseJane Kaufman Harding (1945–1948; divorced)
Jorja Curtright (1951–1985; her death; 1 child)
Alexandra Joyce Kostoff (1989–2007; his death)

Sidney Sheldon (February 11, 1917 – January 30, 2007) was an American writer and producer.


Sheldon came to prominence in the 1930s, first working on Broadway plays and then in motion pictures, notably writing the successful comedy The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) which earned him an Academy Award in 1948. [1] He went on to work in television, where his 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). [2] After turning 50, he began writing best-selling romantic suspense novels, such as Master of the Game (1982), The Other Side of Midnight (1973) and Rage of Angels (1980). His 18 novels have sold over 300 million copies in 51 languages. [3] Sheldon is consistently cited as one of the top ten best selling fiction writers of all time. [4] [5]

Broadway theatre class of professional theater presented in New York City, New York, USA

Broadway theatre, also known simply as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

<i>The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer</i> 1947 film by Dore Schary, Irving Reis

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is a 1947 American comedy film directed by Irving Reis and written by Sidney Sheldon. The film stars Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Shirley Temple in a story about a teenager's crush on an older man. The film was a critical success. Sheldon won an Academy Award for the screenplay.

<i>The Patty Duke Show</i> television series

The Patty Duke Show is an American sitcom that ran on ABC from September 18, 1963 to April 27, 1966, with reruns airing through August 31. The show was created as a vehicle for rising star Patty Duke. 105 episodes were produced, 104 of them airing over three seasons. Most episodes were written by either Sidney Sheldon or William Asher, the show's creators.

Early life

Sheldon was born Sidney Schechtel in Chicago, Illinois. His parents, of Russian Jewish ancestry, were Ascher "Otto" Schechtel (1894–1967), manager of a jewelry store, and Natalie Marcus. At 10, Sidney made his first sale, US$5 for a poem. During the Depression, he worked at a variety of jobs, and after graduating from East High School (Denver), he attended Northwestern University on a scholarship and contributed short plays to drama groups. He had to drop out after six months during the Depression era to help support his family. [6] Sheldon enlisted in the military during World War II as a pilot in the War Training Service, a branch of the Army Air Corps, [7] His unit was disbanded before he saw any action.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

East High School (Denver) public high school located in the City Park neighborhood on the east side of Denver, Colorado

East High School is a public high school located in the City Park neighborhood on the east side of Denver, Colorado. It is part of the Denver Public Schools system, and is one of four original high schools in Denver, the other three are North, West, and South.


In 1937, Sheldon moved to Hollywood, California, where he reviewed scripts and collaborated on a number of B movies. [7]

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. The state is home to five of the top-10 most expensive cities in the United States.

B movie Low budget commercial film genre

A B movie or B film is a low-budget commercial motion picture that is not an arthouse film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified films intended for distribution as the less-publicized bottom half of a double feature. Although the U.S. production of movies intended as second features largely ceased by the end of the 1950s, the term B movie continues to be used in its broader sense to this day. In its post-Golden Age usage, there is ambiguity on both sides of the definition: on the one hand, the primary interest of many inexpensive exploitation films is prurient; on the other, many B movies display a high degree of craft and aesthetic ingenuity.


Sheldon 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. [8] Sheldon received a Tony Award in 1959 for his musical Redhead , starring Gwen Verdon. [9]

Musical theatre work that combines songs, music, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance

Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Although musical theatre overlaps with other theatrical forms like opera and dance, it may be distinguished by the equal importance given to the music as compared with the dialogue, movement and other elements. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called, simply, musicals.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer American media company

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. is an American media company, involved primarily in the production and distribution of feature films and television programs. One of the world's oldest film studios, MGM's headquarters are located at 245 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, California.

Paramount Pictures Major film studio in America, specializing in film and television production, and distribution.

Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film studio based in Hollywood, California, that has been a subsidiary of the American media conglomerate Viacom since 1994. Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world, the second oldest in the United States, and the sole member of the "Big Five" film studios still located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood.


Sheldon's 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 in 1947. [10] He was one of the writers on the screenplay for the 1948 musical film Easter Parade and sole writer for the 1950 musical film Annie Get Your Gun , both of which featured the songs of Irving Berlin. [11]

Musical film film genre

Musical film is a film genre in which songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative, sometimes accompanied by dancing.

<i>Easter Parade</i> (film) 1948 film by Charles Walters

Easter Parade is a 1948 American musical film starring Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Peter Lawford, featuring music by Irving Berlin, including some of Astaire and Garland's best-known songs, such as "Easter Parade", "Steppin' Out with My Baby", and "We're a Couple of Swells".

<i>Annie Get Your Gun</i> (film) 1950 film by Busby Berkeley, George Sidney, Charles Walters

Annie Get Your Gun is a 1950 American musical Technicolor comedy film loosely based on the life of sharpshooter Annie Oakley. The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and a screenplay by Sidney Sheldon based on the 1946 stage musical of the same name, was directed by George Sidney. Despite several production and casting problems, the film won the Academy Award for best score and received three other nominations. Star Betty Hutton was recognized with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.


When television became the new popular medium, Sheldon 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." [8]

Patty Duke American actress

Anna Marie "Patty" Duke was an American actress, appearing on stage, film, and television. Her first big break came from her Academy Award winning performance at age 16 for portraying Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker (1962), a role that she had originated on Broadway. The following year she was given her own show, The Patty Duke Show, in which she played the dual role of "identical cousins" Cathy and Patty Lane. She later progressed to more mature roles such as that of Neely O'Hara in the film Valley of the Dolls (1967). Over the course of her career, she received ten Emmy Award nominations and three Emmy Awards as well as two Golden Globe Awards. Duke also served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1985 to 1988.

After seeing Duke's performance as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker (1962), Sheldon had the idea to cast the actress as the two sitcom leads: identical cousins, Patty and Cathy Lane. [12]

In 1965, Sheldon created, produced and wrote I Dream of Jeannie starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman. [13] 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 later admitted that he did this because he felt his name was appearing too often in the credits as creator, producer, copyright owner and writer of these series.

Production for I Dream of Jeannie ended in 1970 after five seasons. 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." [8]

In 1970, Sheldon wrote all seventeen episodes of the short-lived series Nancy . [14]

In 1979, Sheldon created and wrote for the series Hart to Hart starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers. [15] The show aired on ABC and ran for five seasons. [16]


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, climbed to #1 on The New York Times Best Seller 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. [8] The novels contained a lot of suspense and devices to keep the reader turning the page: [8]

I try to write my books so the reader can't put them down," he explained in a 1982 interview. "I try to construct them so when the reader gets to the end of it, he or she has to read just one more chapter. It's the technique of the old Saturday afternoon serial: leave the guy hanging on the edge of the cliff at the end of the chapter.

Most of his readers were women. [8] 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." [8] 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." [8] He was the author of 18 novels which have sold over 300 million copies.

Three years before his death, The Los Angeles Times called Sheldon "Mr. Blockbuster" and "prince of potboilers." [17]

North Korea

Despite generally limited access to foreign literature, it has been reported that members of North Korea's small English-speaking elite are familiar with Sheldon's work. [18] [19]

Personal life

Sheldon was first married to Jane Kaufman Harding (1945–1948). Later he wrote "Regretfully, in less than a month, Jane and I realized we had made a mistake. ... We spent the next nine months trying in vain to make the marriage work." [20]

He was married for 30 years to Jorja Curtright, a stage and film actress who later became an interior designer. [21] She played Suzanne in the 1955 film, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing , and appeared in a Season One episode of I Dream of Jeannie as Madame Zolta. [22] Curtright died of a heart attack in 1985. Their daughter, Mary Sheldon, became a novelist as well. [23] [24]

Sheldon married Alexandra Joyce Kostoff, a former child actress [25] [26] in Las Vegas in 1989. [27]

Sheldon struggled with bipolar disorder for years; he contemplated suicide at 17 (talked out of it by his father, who found him with a bottle of whiskey and several bottles of sleeping pills), as detailed in his autobiography published in 2005, The Other Side of Me .


A resident of Palm Springs, California, [28] Sheldon died on January 30, 2007 of pneumonia at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California, 12 days before his 90th birthday. [7] [1] His remains were cremated, the ashes interred in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.


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. Sheldon was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1988 [29] had a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars dedicated to him in 1994. [30]




  1. The Other Side of Midnight (1973)
  2. Memories of Midnight (1990)

Ambitious Women



Broadway plays [31]

London plays

Children's Books

The Adventures of Drippy the Runaway Raindrop

The Chase

The Dictator

Ghost Story"

The Money Tree


The Strangler

The Twelve Commandments

The Adventure of a Quarter''

Sidney Sheldon Books by Tilly Bagshawe

Mistress of the Game (2009). A Sequel to Master of the Game

After the Darkness (2010)

Angel of the Dark (2012)

The Tides of Memory (2013)

Chasing Tomorrow (2014) First sequel to If Tomorrow Comes

Reckless (2015) Second sequel to If Tomorrow Comes

The Silent Widow(2018)

Films as writer


Related Research Articles

Larry Hagman American actor

Larry Martin Hagman was an American film and television actor, director and producer best known for playing ruthless oil baron J.R. Ewing in the 1980s primetime television soap opera Dallas and befuddled astronaut Major Anthony "Tony" Nelson in the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie. Hagman had supporting roles in numerous films, including Fail-Safe, Harry and Tonto, S.O.B., Nixon and Primary Colors. His television appearances also included guest roles on dozens of shows spanning from the late 1950s until his death and a reprise of his signature role on the 2012 revival of Dallas. He also worked as a television producer and director. Hagman was the son of actress Mary Martin. He underwent a life-saving liver transplant in 1995. He died on November 23, 2012 from complications of acute myeloid leukemia.

Herman Wouk American writer

Herman Wouk was an American author best known for historical fiction such as The Caine Mutiny (1951) which won the Pulitzer Prize.

<i>Misery</i> (novel) novel by Stephen King

Misery is a 1987 psychological horror thriller novel by Stephen King. The novel was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1988, and was later made into a Hollywood film and an off-Broadway play of the same name. When King was writing Misery in 1985 he planned the book to be released under the pseudonym Richard Bachman but the identity of the pseudonym was discovered before the release of the book.

<i>I Dream of Jeannie</i> American television series

I Dream of Jeannie is an American fantasy sitcom starring Barbara Eden as a 2,000-year-old genie and Larry Hagman as an astronaut who becomes her master, with whom she falls in love and eventually marries. Produced by Screen Gems, the show originally aired from September 18, 1965 to May 26, 1970 with new episodes, and through September 1970 with season repeats, on NBC. The show ran for five seasons and produced 139 episodes.

Alan Menken American musical theatre and film composer and pianist

Alan Irwin Menken is an American musical theatre and film score composer, songwriter and pianist. Menken is best known for his scores for films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. His scores for The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and Pocahontas (1995) have each won him two Academy Awards. He also composed the scores for Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Newsies (1992), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Hercules (1997), Home on the Range (2004), Enchanted (2007), Tangled (2010), and Sausage Party (2016), among others. He is also known for his work on musical theatre works for Broadway and elsewhere. Some of these are based on his Disney films, but other stage hits include Little Shop of Horrors (1982), A Christmas Carol (1994) and Sister Act (2009).

<i>Frank Herberts Dune</i> 2000 three part TV mini-series directed by John Harrison

Frank Herbert's Dune is a three-part science fiction television miniseries based on the eponymous novel by Frank Herbert. It was directed and adapted by John Harrison. The ensemble cast includes Alec Newman as Paul Atreides, William Hurt as Duke Leto, and Saskia Reeves as Jessica, as well as James Watson, P. H. Moriarty, Robert Russell, Ian McNeice, and Giancarlo Giannini.

Sheldon Harnick American lyricist

Sheldon Mayer Harnick is an American lyricist and songwriter best known for his collaborations with composer Jerry Bock on musicals such as Fiddler on the Roof.

Ken Kercheval American actor

Ken Kercheval was an American actor, best known for his role as Cliff Barnes on the television series Dallas and its 2012 revival.

Ken Howard American actor

Kenneth Joseph Howard Jr. was an American actor, best known for his roles as Thomas Jefferson in 1776 and as basketball coach and former Chicago Bulls player Ken Reeves in the television show The White Shadow (1978–1981). Howard won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play in 1970 for his performance in Child's Play, and later won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his work in Grey Gardens (2009).

<i>Master of the Game</i> (novel) novel by Sidney Sheldon

Master of the Game is a novel by Sidney Sheldon, first published in hardback format in 1982. Spanning four generations in the lives of the fictional McGregor/Blackwell family, the critically acclaimed novel spent four weeks at number one on the New York Times Best Seller List, and was later adapted into a 1984 television miniseries.

Robert L. Joseph was an American theatre producer, playwright, and screenwriter.

Jeannie Berlin American actress

Jeannie Berlin is an American film, television and stage actress and screenwriter, known for her role in the 1972 film The Heartbreak Kid, for which she received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. She later played the leading role in Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York (1975), and in 2000s returned to screen appearing in films such as Margaret (2011), Inherent Vice (2014) and Cafe Society (2016), as well as the miniseries The Night Of (2016). In 2018 she played the President of the United States of America in the Hulu original series The First, a science fiction drama about NASA astronauts exploring the planet Mars.

Hayden Rorke American actor

William Henry Rorke, known professionally as Hayden Rorke, was an American actor best known for playing Colonel Alfred E. Bellows on the 1960s American sitcom I Dream of Jeannie.

Bruce Kirby is an American character actor.

<i>The Other Side of Me</i> (book) book by Sidney Sheldon

The Other Side Of Me is the autobiographical memoirs of American writer Sidney Sheldon published in 2005. It was also his final book.

<i>The Other Side of Midnight</i> (film) 1977 film by Charles Jarrott

The Other Side of Midnight is a 1977 American drama film directed by Charles Jarrott and starring Marie-France Pisier, John Beck, and Susan Sarandon. Herman Raucher wrote the screenplay based on Sidney Sheldon's 1973 novel of the same name.

<i>Sidney Sheldons After the Darkness</i> book by Sidney Sheldon

Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness is a 2010 novel by Tilly Bagshawe. Bagshawe began writing Sidney Sheldon works after the latter's death in 2007. After writing Mistress of the Game, Tilly Bagshawe once again recaptured the late Sidney Sheldon’s way of thriller writing in After the Darkness. The novel echoes the Bernie Madoff scandal in America.

<i>Windmills of the Gods</i> (miniseries) 1988 film directed by Lee Philips

Windmills of the Gods is a 1988 American two-part television miniseries directed by Lee Philips and starring Jaclyn Smith and Robert Wagner. It is based on the novel of the same name written by Sidney Sheldon, who also served as executive producer. It was broadcast in two parts by CBS on February 7, 1988 and February 9, 1988. It was the fifth miniseries based on a Sheldon's book, and the third adaptation starred by Jaclyn Smith.


  1. 1 2 "Sidney Sheldon, Author of Steamy Novels, Dies at 89", The New York Times, January 31, 2007.
  2. Mitgang, Herbert (February 26, 1978). "Behind the Best Sellers". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  3. Jane; Stern, Michael (January 1, 2006). "Master of the Game". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  4. "The Best Selling Fiction Authors of all Time". Ranker. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  5. "The Best Selling Fiction Authors of all Time". Ranker. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  6. "Sidney Sheldon: A chat with the best-selling author Sidney Sheldon about his book Tell Me Your Dreams", CNN , July 13, 1999
  7. 1 2 3 "Welcome to The Official Website of the World's Master Storyteller".
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Author Sidney Sheldon dies at 89", Associated Press, January 30, 2007. Archive copy.
  9. "Sidney Sheldon". Music Theatre International. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  10. "Sidney Sheldon, top novelist, won Oscar, Tony and Emmy". Daily News. January 31, 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  11. "The Return of 'Annie Get Your Gun'". Los Angeles Times. October 27, 2000. ISSN   0458-3035 . Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  12. "Patty Duke Show, The". Television Academy Interviews. October 22, 2017. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  13. Cashill, Robert. "Unbottling Jeannie: Magic and Mischief on the Set of a Sitcom Favorite". Biography. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  14. "Nancy". Television Obscurities. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  15. "One from the Hart: A Hart to Hart Reunion". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  16. Wong, Curtis M. (September 18, 2015). "There's A Gay Remake In Store For This Iconic TV Series". HuffPost. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  17. "Mr. Blockbuster", The Los Angeles Times, September 25, 2004.
  18. Kim, Suki (October 14, 2014). Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea's Elite. Crown. ISBN   9780307720665 . Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  19. Power, John. "Foreign fiction present in North Korea, though restricted". NK News. Retrieved July 16, 2017.
  20. Sheldon, Sidney, The Other Side of Me, Warner Vision Books, 2005
  21. "Jorja Curtright". IMDb. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  22. "Jorja Curtright | TV Guide". Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  23. Los Angeles Times: "Author Mary Sheldon, daughter of Sidney Sheldon, sells in Beverly Hills" by Neal J. Leitereg March 19, 2016
  24. "Sidney Sheldon and His Novelist Daughter Mary Explore Their Literary Bloodlines". Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  25. Alexandra Sheldon herself received a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars Frenzel, Gerhard G. (1999). Portrait of the Stars. Palm Springs, CA: Palm Springs Walk of Stars. p. 99. LCCN   98093956. OCLC   41260876.
  26. Sidney Sheldon Archived February 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  27. "The Newly Married Sidney Sheldons Honored at Party". Los Angeles Times. November 9, 1989. ISSN   0458-3035 . Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  28. Johns, Howard (2004). Palm Springs Confidential: Playground of the Stars!. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books. pp. 55, 86. ISBN   9781569802694. LCCN   2004041116. OCLC   54392060. LCC   PN2285 .J56 2004
  29. "Sidney Sheldon | Hollywood Walk of Fame". Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  30. Palm Springs Walk of Stars: By Date Dedicated Archived December 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  31. Internet Broadway Database (IBDB)