Name at birth: Sidney Schechtel
Sidney Sheldon was a prolific screenwriter, TV producer and the author of several bestselling novels, including 1974's The Other Side of Midnight. He grew up in Chicago and spent a few months at Northwestern University, but moved to Los Angeles in 1937. He worked for movie studios as a reader and scriptwriter, cranking out scripts for low-budget features. Working his way up the ladder, Sheldon won an Oscar for his original screenplay to the Cary Grant and Shirley Temple comedy The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947), and won praise for his work on Easter Parade (1948) and Annie Get Your Gun (1950). He won a Tony for writing Gwen Verdon's Redhead (1959), and then began working in television. As a TV writer and producer, he created The Patty Duke Show (1965-68), I Dream of Jeannie (1965-70) and, later, Hart to Hart (1979-84). In his 50s, Sheldon turned to writing what became known as "glitz" novels -- exciting but improbable tales of the rich and beautiful. His second novel, The Other Side of Midnight, was a smash success, and he followed with more easy-to-read page-turners that landed on the bestseller lists, including A Stranger in the Mirror (1975), Bloodline (1977), Rage of Angels (1980) and Masters of the Game (1982). He published his autobiography, The Other Side of Me, in 2005.