Sidney Sheldon (February 11, 1917 – January 30, 2007) was an American writer, director, and producer.
Sheldon was prominent 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 Oscar in 1948. 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). 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. Sheldon is consistently cited as one of the top-10 best-selling fiction writers of all time.
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 in Denver, Colorado, 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. 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, but he was discharged because of a recurring slipped disc before he was deployed.
In 1937, Sheldon moved to Hollywood, where he reviewed scripts and collaborated on a number of B movies.