Sherry Lansing is a former actress and American film studio executive. She is former CEO of Paramount Pictures, and when president of production at 20th Century Fox was the first woman to head a Hollywood studio In 1996, she became the first woman named Pioneer of the Year by the Foundation of the Motion Picture Pioneers, and the first woman studio head to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2005, she became the first woman studio head to place hand and foot prints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. In 2001, she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal, and The Hollywood Reporter named her fourth on its Power 100 list in 2003.
Lansing was born Sherry Lee Duhl in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother, the former Margot Heimann, fled from Nazi Germany; her father was David Duhl, a real-estate investor, who died when she was nine. Lansing attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and graduated in 1962. In 1966, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Northwestern University, where she was a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority.
Lansing married Academy award winning director William Friedkin on July 6, 1991; he had previously been married to French film star Jeanne Moreau. By this marriage Lansing has two stepsons, Jack and Cedric.
She pursued an acting career but, dissatisfied with her own acting skills, she decided to learn more about the film industry from the ground up. She took a job with MGM as head script reader and worked on two successful movies, The China Syndrome and Kramer vs. Kramer.