Sidney Sheldon, American writer and producer, Died at 89

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Sidney Sheldon died on January 30, 2007, at the age of 89; he was an American writer and producer.

Born Sidney Schechtel in Chicago, Illinois on February 11, 1917, his parents, of Russian Jewish ancestry, were Ascher “Otto” Schechtel (1894–1967), manager of a jewellery store, and Natalie Marcus.

At 10, Sidney made his first sale, US$5 for a poem.

Sheldon enlisted in the military during World War II as a pilot in the War Training Service, a branch of the Army Air Corps, His unit was disbanded before he saw any action.

Returning to civilian life, he moved to New York City 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.

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.

During World War II, he served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps.

After the war he established a reputation as being a prolific writer in the New York theatre community.

At one point during this career he had three musicals on Broadway including a rewritten version of “The Merry Widow,” “Jackpot” and “Dream with Music.”

Eventually he received a Tony award as part of the writing team for the Gwen Verdon hit “Redhead” which brought to the attention of Hollywood.

In a 1982 interview Sheldon told of how he created his novels; “I try to write my books so the reader can’t put them down.

I try to construct them so when the reader gets to the end of a chapter, 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.”

He was married for more than 30 years to Jorja Curtright Sheldon, a stage and film actress who later became a prominent interior decorator.

After her death in 1985 he married Alexandra Sheldon, a former child actress and advertising executive, in 1989.

Sills’s father played a dominant role in shaping her behaviour.

He wanted her to complete her education, including college, before she returned to a singing career.

Sills was a very good student whose IQ was 155, and she displayed talent for mathematics as well as music, a not uncommon combination of skills.

In 1942 she graduated from P.S. 91 in Brooklyn; then, while she continued her singing lessons in French and Italian, she attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn and the Professional Children’s School in Manhattan.

By the time she was fifteen years old; she had mastered twenty operatic roles and, in her mind, had set her future course.

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