Sidney Sheldon: the other side of me


If you didn’t grow up through the 60’s and 70’s you can be excused for not knowing who Sidney Sheldon is. I mention those two decades because it was through that time period when he had not one, not two, but three hit television programs that he wrote and in some cases produced. In case you’re interested the programs were: The Patty Duke Show, I Dream of Jeannie, and Hart to Hart. He also wrote and produced Nancy but the network cancelled it before it really got a chance to get started.

Before he died aged 89 on 30 January 2007 he wrote 7 Broadway plays, 25 feature films, 4 television shows, 18 novels, and 9 children’s books. 11 of his novels have been adapted into films and television shows (including mini-series’) and he was the producer for 6 projects and directed 2 feature films. Yet this over productive over achiever suffered from manic depression (later changed to the much nicer bipolar disorder) that was only diagnosed after he’d suffered from it for years.

At age 17 he saved up a collection of sleeping pills and “borrowing” a bottle of bourbon from his father, he decided to kill himself. He father Otto, came back into the family apartment just as Sidney was about to start taking the pills. His father talked him into taking a walk and during their stroll; Otto talked him out of killing himself.

Sheldon was a real “Jack-of-all-trades” he moved to New York to become a song writer; he joined the Army Air Corp in the newly formed Training Corp learned to fly. He got his wings and waited for his call-up for advanced flight training. While he waited he started writing Broadway plays with Ben Roberts who he’d worked with in Hollywood. When he finally got his call for advanced training his herniated disc got him kicked out of the Army Air Corp and the Army declared him 4-F (unfit for duty) and he continued on his sometimes rocky rise to fame.

This autobiography was first published in 2005 and it is a very entertaining read and it provides a  brilliant insight on how the entertainment business really works. Sheldon worked with a lot of the greats; Irving Berlin, Dore Schary, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire and Judy Garland to name just a few.

This modest unassuming gentleman made a lot of life-long friends in both Hollywood and New York. He gives the reader an insight to all his personality. His faults and foibles are included as well as a straight forward look at the Bipolar disorder that plagued him his entire life. He never, at any point in the book, attempts to gild the lily or to portray himself as anything other than a hard-working Joe who has managed to land the best job in the world and as an added bonus gets to meet and work with the rich and famous.

At the ripe old age of 53 he published his first novel and began a whole new career as a writer of novels and children’s books. This multi-talented hard worker managed to amass a resume that would impress even the harshest of critics.

The book is a fast read. It flows quickly from page to page and I “power read” the book in one setting. With 360 pages of information and a few photo’s stuck in the middle; the achievement of reading the book from front to back in one go is diminished somewhat by the fact that it is written well and ultimately makes the actual task of reading it very easy.

It’s been out a while (like I said, originally published in 2005) but if you haven’t read it, pick it up and give it a go. It is entertaining, insightful and interesting. I know as much as I knew the name of Sidney Sheldon, I had no idea of all the things he’d accomplished in his life, not least of which was dealing with his own personal Bipolar demon.

A definite 5 star read.

The late Sidney Sheldon (February 11, 1917 – January 30, 2007)

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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