Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sidney Sheldon, R. I. P. | Sidney Sheldon prolific valley author dies at 89

The Desert Sun
January 31, 2007
Sidney Sheldon, widely acclaimed as the most prolific author of the modern era, was remembered Tuesday by Coachella Valley neighbors as a master of many mediums.

Sheldon, 89, died Tuesday afternoon at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage with his wife, Alexandra, and daughter, author Mary Sheldon, at his side.

Friends said he had been in and out of the hospital for the past year. He died from complications of pneumonia.

Sheldon turned to writing novels at age 50 and wrote 18 books that all made the New York Times best-seller list, selling more than 300 million copies in 51 languages in 180 countries.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Pacific Southwest Chapter was planning to honor Sheldon at its April 15 Gold and Silver Circle Honor Rolls luncheon in Rancho Mirage for his television writing, in addition to winning an Academy Award for penning "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer" and a Tony Award for "Redhead."

"I think he stands alone," said Pacific Southwest Chapter board member Robin Montgomery. "Actresses have won Tonys, Oscars and Emmys, but I'm talking about writer-producers. Here's a man who went to the stage first, film second and television last and was successful in all mediums. But with big bodies of work.

"And then he was an author! Let's not forget that he was one of the greatest living writers as far as bulk books and best-sellers. You're talking about a prolific man."

Longtime valley friends were too broken up over his death to comment. Betty Hutton of Palm Springs, who starred in Sheldon's screenplay of "Annie Get Your Gun," was "really, really sorry" to hear of his death, said her friend, Carl Bruno.

"She thought he was a genius," he said. "She said he was a wonderful, talented man."

Sheldon wrote "I Dream of Jeannie," "Hart to Hart" and "The Patty Duke Show" among his 200 television scripts.

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