End of a dream that captured the imagination of millions

End of a dream that captured the imagination of millions
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First Published: Wed, Jan 31 2007. 12 10 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Jan 31 2007. 12 10 PM IST
AFPLOS ANGELES:Sidney Sheldon, an Oscar-winning Hollywood screenwriter who went on to become one of the world’s most prolific novelists, died in California on January30 complications arising from pneumoniaat the age of 89, a publicist said. The world-famous author died at the Eisenhower Medical Centre in Rancho Mirage, publicist Warren Cowan said.“Sidney passed away this afternoon,” Cowan told AFP. “He was a beautiful man and a beautiful friend.”Cowan said Sheldon’s wife Alexandra and daughter Mary Sheldon were by the author’s side. “He was in every sense a first-class human being,” Cowan said. “I was his friend and his publicist for over 25 years. “I never heard anyone speak ill of him. I would travel all over the world and hear only good things about Sidney. He was a wonderful, wonderful man.” Born in 1917 to a German Jewish father and a Russian Jewish mother, Sheldon’s writing career began in Hollywood at the age of 20 where he worked on scripts and movies.He trained as a pilot during World War Two. Upon returning to civilian life after the war he turned his hand to writing musicals as well as screenplays for MGM studios and Paramount.His greatest success as a screenwriter came in 1947 when he won an Oscar for best original screenplay for the movie “The Bachelor and The Bobby Soxer,” starring Cary Grant and Shirley Temple. But while he continued to write movie and television scripts throughout the 1950s and 1960s, it was his work as a novelist that catapulted him to worldwide fame, starting with his debut novel “The Naked Face” in 1970.It was mauled by the critics, but sold 21,000 copies in hard-cover before exploding onto the paperback best-seller lists, with sales of 3.1 million copies.The novel’s success provided the launchpad for a literary career that saw Sheldon regularly top of the best-seller lists, his books invariably populated by plucky female characters and malevolent men. Sheldon became an American icon in the 1970s with novels like “The Other Side of Midnight” and “Bloodline,” bestsellers spun out of international intrigue and the sexual liberation of the era. Strong women were often the main characters.He published 18 novels, translated into 51 languages, and sold 300 million copies, making him a paperback stand staple for decades.But before his career in fiction took off after turning 50, the Chicago native had made his mark in Hollywood movies and television and in Broadway theater.His big break came in 1948 when he won an Academy Award for original screenplay for “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer” starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy.In 1963, he turned to television as screenwriter for “The Patty Duke Show” and followed up in 1964 by creating, producing and writing the hit show “I Dream of Jeannie.”In 2005, he wrote his memoir “The Other Side of Me” in which he offered a rare glimpse into the lives of stars like Grant, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra.Sheldon is survived by his wife, Alexandra, and a daughter, Mary.
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First Published: Wed, Jan 31 2007. 12 10 PM IST