Sidney Sheldon was an Academy Award-winning American writer. His TV works spanned a 20-year period during which he created The Patty Duke Show, I Dream of Jeannie and Hart to Hart, but it was not until after he turned 50 and began writing best-selling novels such as Master of the Game, The Other Side of Midnight and Rage of Angels that he became most famous.
Sheldon was born Sidney Schechtel in Chicago, Illinois, to parents of Russian Jewish ancestry, Ascher “Otto” Schechtel, manager of a jewelry store, and Natalie Marcus. At 10, he made his first sale, $5 for a poem. During the Depression, he worked at a variety of jobs, and after graduating from Denver East High School, attended Northwestern University and contributed short plays to drama groups.
In 1937 he moved to Hollywood, California, where he reviewed scripts and collaborated on a number of B movies. Sheldon enlisted in the military during World War II as a pilot in the War Training Service, a branch of the Army Air Corps, However, his unit was disbanded before Sheldon could see any action. He then returned to civilian life and moved to New York 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.
When television became the new hot medium, he decided to try his hand in it. “I suppose I needed money,” he remembered. “I met Patty Duke one day at lunch. So I produced The Patty Duke Show, and I did something nobody else in TV ever did. For seven years, I wrote almost every single episode of the series.” He also wrote for the series Hart to Hart and Nancy. Most famously he wrote the series I Dream of Jeannie, which he also created and produced, which lasted for five seasons from 1965?1970. It was “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.”