Sidney Sheldon

Writer/ Show Creator


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Sidney Sheldon (1917-2007) recalls his early years in Hollywood as a screenwriter for feature films and the success he achieved in that field, culminating in his win of the Academy Award for "The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer." Sheldon next discusses his creation of The Patty Duke Show, and his fond memories of working with the show's young star. During his run as writer/producer of Patty Duke, he recalls getting approached by Screen Gems to produce another comedy for them, which eventually became I Dream of Jeannie. He talks about how he created the concept for the show, and fondly remembers each of the stars, including Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman. He discusses the effort to hide Eden's pregnancy in the first season, and how the crew put together the many special effects shots. He also shares his memories of the "navel controversy" that brewed during the time over not revealing Eden's belly button, and the attempt by the stars of Laugh-In to circumvent that rule. Later, he recalls creating Nancy, the short-lived 1970 sitcom, and Hart to Hart (pilot only), which he produced for Aaron Spelling. Sheldon next discusses his about-face from television writer to novelist, and shares his delight at the success that he has achieved with the sixteen best-selling books he has written, many of which have been turned into successful television movies. Henry Colman conducted the interview in Beverly Hills, CA on March 30, 2000.

"I got out to Hollywood and they made a deal for me to have my own company and produce 'I Dream of Jeannie.' Meanwhile, I had to fly back to New York every week because I was the story editor and almost the sole writer for 'The Patty Duke Show.' I was writing both shows at once because I had no idea that it couldn't be done."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Sidney Sheldon on how he got the idea for I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on "the navel controversy" on I Dream of Jeannie and doing an episode with Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In
Sidney Sheldon on meeting Patty Duke and getting the idea for The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on directing Cecil B. DeMille in "The Buster Keaton Story" at MGM
Sidney Sheldon on writing what would become the film "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer"
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his love of reading and knowing he wanted to be a writer; on his early memories of television
On his early attempt at songwriting and moving to New York; on moving to California, getting a job at Universal Studios, and becoming a reader at Fox
On beginning to write stories and screenplays; on serving in the Air Force during World War II and writing the play "The Merry Widow"; on his success with Broadway plays
On writing what would become the film "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer"; on winning an Oscar, his contract with MGM, and writing the screenplay for "Annie Get Your Gun"

Chapter 2

On his work at Paramount; on returning to Broadway to write "Redhead"
On his first work for television (a project for Desilu); on developing The Patty Duke Show; on developing I Dream of Jeannie while still writing for The Patty Duke Show

Chapter 3

On production on and the end of The Patty Duke Show; on working on The Patty Duke Show and I Dream of Jeannie at the same time
On casting and writing scripts for I Dream of Jeannie; on the show's regular directors; on props, special effects, and shooting in color

Chapter 4

On the lack of network interference when he was working in TV versus what he sees in the industry today (2000); on the status of the business
On his creative freedom on I Dream of Jeannie; on "the navel controversy" on I Dream of Jeannie and doing an episode with Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In; on the end of I Dream of Jeannie - the marriage of the lead characters destroyed the show
On the merchandising and guest stars of I Dream of Jeannie; on the show's enduring popularity
On his recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist; on creating and producing the short-lived series Nancy
On writing novels; on working on several failed pilots

Chapter 5

On his mother appearing in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie; on directing Cecil B. DeMille in "The Buster Keaton Story" at MGM
On writing the pilot for Hart to Hart; on differences between writing for film and television and writing novels; on promoting his books
On his writing process; on being the Guinness Book of World Record Holder for Most Translated Author in the World; on his success and several of his books becoming feature films or TV miniseries
On career regrets; on his then-current work; on his mentors, advice to aspiring television writers and producers, and the highlight of his career - receiving an Oscar; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Bewitched

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Sidney Sheldon on similarities between I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched

Hart to Hart

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Sidney Sheldon on writing the pilot for Hart to Hart

I Dream of Jeannie

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Sidney Sheldon on developing I Dream of Jeannie while still writing for The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on how he got the idea for I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on creating and producing I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on casting I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on creating "Major Nelson" on I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on Screen Gems and production on I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on the cast of I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on the writers of I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on concealing Barbara Eden's real-life pregnancy on I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on difficulties with Larry Hagman on I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on the directors on I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on writing scripts and production for I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on working with Screen Gems and trying to get I Dream of Jeannie shot in color
Sidney Sheldon on sets, props, and special effects on I Dream of Jeannie; on guest stars
Sidney Sheldon on "the navel controversy" on I Dream of Jeannie and doing an episode with Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In
Sidney Sheldon on critical reaction to and the ratings of I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on the end of I Dream of Jeannie - the marriage of the lead characters destroyed the show
Sidney Sheldon on the merchandising and guest stars of I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on similarities between I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched
Sidney Sheldon on the end of I Dream of Jeannie and beginning to write novels
Sidney Sheldon on the enduring popularity of I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on his mother appearing in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie

I Dream of Jeannie… 15 Years Later

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Sidney Sheldon on not being involved with  I Dream of Jeannie... 15 Years Later, but being involved with a movie version of the show

Patty Duke Show, The

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Sidney Sheldon on meeting Patty Duke and getting the idea for The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on wanting to write all the scripts for The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on developing I Dream of Jeannie while still writing for The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on Patty Duke's difficult childhood and how her managers mistreated her
Sidney Sheldon on the special effects and split screens on The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on the cast of The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on production on The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on writing episodes of and merchandising on The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on not being involved with the reunion of The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on the end of The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on the theme song of The Patty Duke Show

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

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Sidney Sheldon on "the navel controversy" on I Dream of Jeannie and doing an episode with Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Sidney Sheldon on the lack of network interference when he was working in TV versus what he sees in the industry today (2000); on the status of the business

Hollywood Blacklist

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Sidney Sheldon on his recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Sidney Sheldon on his recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist

Pop Culture

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Sidney Sheldon on Friz Freeleng animating the opening sequence of I Dream of Jeannie

TV Theme Songs

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Sidney Sheldon on Friz Freeleng animating the opening sequence of I Dream of Jeannie

Technological Innovation

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Sidney Sheldon on working with Screen Gems and trying to get I Dream of Jeannie shot in color

Television Industry

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Sidney Sheldon on the lack of network interference when he was working in TV versus what he sees in the industry today (2000); on the status of the business
Sidney Sheldon on his recollections of the Hollywood Blacklist
Sidney Sheldon on then-current (2000) television writing and the state of television

War

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Sidney Sheldon on serving in the Air Force during World War II and writing plays

World War II

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Sidney Sheldon on serving in the Air Force during World War II and writing plays
Professions

Directors

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Sidney Sheldon on why he loves writing more than directing

Producers

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Sidney Sheldon on how he became a producer at MGM
Sidney Sheldon on advice to aspiring television writers and producers

Writers

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Sidney Sheldon on why he loves writing more than directing
Sidney Sheldon on his process for writing novels
Sidney Sheldon on differences between writing for film and television and writing novels
Sidney Sheldon on his writing process
Sidney Sheldon on advice to aspiring television writers
Genres

Comedy Series

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Sidney Sheldon on his first real experience with television - co-creating The Patty Duke Show with William Asher
Sidney Sheldon on creating and producing I Dream of Jeannie
Sidney Sheldon on the guest stars, end of, and enduring popularity of I Dream of Jeannie
People

William Asher

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Sidney Sheldon on his first real experience with television - co-creating The Patty Duke Show with William Asher

Fred Astaire

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Sidney Sheldon on working with the cast of "Easter Parade" (which he wrote)

George Balanchine

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Sidney Sheldon on making connections to further his playwriting

Bill Daily

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Sidney Sheldon on the cast of I Dream of Jeannie - Bill Daily

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Sidney Sheldon on guest stars on I Dream of Jeannie

Cecil B. DeMille

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Sidney Sheldon on directing Cecil B. DeMille in "The Buster Keaton Story" at MGM

Patty Duke

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Sidney Sheldon on meeting Patty Duke and getting the idea for The Patty Duke Show
Sidney Sheldon on Patty Duke's difficult childhood and how her managers mistreated her

Barbara Eden

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Sidney Sheldon on concealing Barbara Eden's real-life pregnancy on I Dream of Jeannie

Dorothy Fields

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Sidney Sheldon on returning to Broadway to write "Redhead" with Dorothy and Herb Fields

Arthur Freed

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Sidney Sheldon on working with the cast of "Easter Parade" (which he wrote)

Friz Freleng

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Sidney Sheldon on Friz Freleng animating the opening sequence of I Dream of Jeannie

Judy Garland

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Sidney Sheldon on working with the cast of "Easter Parade" (which he wrote)

Larry Hagman

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Sidney Sheldon on the cast of I Dream of Jeannie - Larry Hagman
Sidney Sheldon on difficulties with Larry Hagman on I Dream of Jeannie

Jerry Lewis

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Sidney Sheldon on writing two films for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin

Dean Martin

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Sidney Sheldon on writing two films for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin

Gene Nelson

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Sidney Sheldon on the directors on I Dream of Jeannie

Dore Schary

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Sidney Sheldon on how he became a producer at MGM

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