Sheldon, Sidney 1917-2007

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Sheldon, Sidney 1917-2007

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born February 11, 1917, in Chicago, IL; died of complications from pneumonia, January 30, 2007, in Rancho Mirage, CA. Author. Sheldon was a best-selling novelist who was also an award-winning author of films, Broadway plays, and television series. Although his parents were not well educated, as a boy he was an avid reader, which helped him win a scholarship to Northwestern University. Money woes, however, forced him to drop out in 1936. He moved to New York City with hopes of becoming a song writer, but a serious illness that was not diagnosed until later held him back. Sheldon was a manic-depressive who struggled with his handicap for years before medication helped control it. In New York his severe bouts of depression made a song-writing career impossible. Sheldon therefore resolved to go to Hollywood, and he landed a job as a script reader at Universal Studios. Here he found much greater success and by the early 1940s was getting his scripts produced for the big screen. Among his early films are the cowritten Dangerous Lady (1941) and South of Panama (1941). Ben Roberts, with whom he collaborated on the latter, would be a partner on several of his early plays, too, including The Merry Widow operetta (1943) and Dream with Music (1944), which was also written with Dorothy Kilgallen. Sheldon wrote successfully for both the stage and movie houses through the 1940s and won his only Academy Award for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947). He won a Screen Writers' Guild Award for best musical for Easter Parade (1948), as well, and again two years later for Annie Get Your Gun (1950). These were followed by the stage play success of Redhead (1959), the musical that earned Sheldon an Antoinette Perry Award. With his career on stage and film secured, Sheldon turned to the medium of television in the 1960s, writing hundreds of scripts for popular shows such as The Patty Duke Show and I Dream of Jeannie, the latter winning him an Emmy Award. I Dream of Jeannie ended its run in 1970, and though Sheldon would later create another popular television show, Hart to Hart, a series that ran in the 1980s, he turned increasingly to novels. His debut, The Naked Face (1970), won him the Edgar Allan Poe Award. It would be followed by a string of best-selling fiction through the early twenty-first century. Sheldon, whose novels were widely popular but received lukewarm literary criticism, created a winning formula in which exciting plots, action, exotic locales, and tales of the wealthy, salacious, and dangerous dominated. The author did not overly concern himself with characterization, and so his heroes were often viewed as cookie-cutter. Nevertheless, his books sold millions and many believe Sheldon was the most-translated author of the twentieth century. A number of his novels were also adapted as movies. Among his books are The Other Side of Midnight (1974), The Sands of Time (1988), Nothing Lasts Forever: The New Novel (1994), and Are You Afraid of the Dark? (2004). In 2005, he published his autobiography, The Other Side of Me, in which he addressed his struggles with manic-depression.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

BOOKS

Sheldon, Sidney, The Other Side of Me, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2005.

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, January 31, 2007, Section 1, p. 11.

New York Times, February 1, 2007, p. A21.

Times (London, England), February 1, 2007, p. 61.