Sidney Sheldon, best-selling author, dies at age 89
Sidney Sheldon, who won awards in three careers — Broadway theater, movies and television — then at age 50 turned to writing...
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Sidney Sheldon, who won awards in two careers — Broadway theater and movies — then at age 50 turned to writing best-selling novels about stalwart women who triumph in a hostile world of ruthless men, has died. He was 89.
Sheldon died Tuesday afternoon of complications from pneumonia at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Sheldon's books, with titles such as "Rage of Angels," "The Other Side of Midnight," "Master of the Game" and "If Tomorrow Comes," provided his greatest fame. They were cleverly plotted, with a high degree of suspense and sensuality.
Analyzing why so many women bought his books, he commented: "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."
Several of his novels became television miniseries, often with the author as producer.
Sheldon was born Feb. 11, 1917, in Chicago.
At 17, he decided to try his luck in Hollywood, but the only job he could find was as a reader of prospective film material at Universal Studio for $22 a week.
During World War II, he served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps.
After the war, he established his reputation as a prolific writer for the New York Theater. At one time he had three musicals on Broadway: a rewritten "The Merry Widow," "Jackpot" and "Dream with Music." He received a Tony award as one of the writers of the Gwen Verdon hit "Redhead."
His Broadway success brought about his return to Hollywood.
His first assignment, "The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer," starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Shirley Temple, brought him the Academy Award for best original screenplay of 1947.
Recalling his transition to television, he said: "I met Patty Duke one day at lunch. So I produced 'The Patty Duke Show' (in which she played two cousins), and I did something nobody else in TV ever did. For seven years, I wrote almost every single episode of the series."
Another series, "Nancy," lasted only a half-season, but "I Dream of Jeannie," which he also created and produced, lasted five seasons, 1965-1970.
"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."
The result was "The Naked Face," which was scorned by book reviewers and sold 21,000 copies in hardcover. The novel found a mass market in paperback, reportedly selling 3.1 million copies. Thereafter Sheldon became a habitue of best-seller lists, often reigning on top.
Sheldon prided himself on the authenticity of his novels. He remarked in 1987: "If I write about a place, I have been there. If I write about a meal in Indonesia, I have eaten there in that restaurant. I don't think you can fool the reader."
Sheldon is survived by his wife, Alexandra; his daughter, Mary; his brother Richard; and two grandchildren.
Information in this article, originally published January 31, 2007, was corrected February 9, 2007. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that writer Sidney Sheldon won awards in three careers. Sheldon won awards for Broadway theater and movies, but not for his television work, his publicist said. Sheldon's birthday also was incorrect. He was born Feb. 11, 1917, not Feb. 17.
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