Sidney Sheldon the screenwriter, producer, and best-selling fiction novelist, was born on February 11, 1917 in Chicago. In 1935 he won a scholarship to Northwestern University, but was forced to drop out at the end of his freshman year due to financial hardships during the Great Depression. He found different kinds of work to fund his plans to stay in New York City as a songwriter in 1936. Unsuccessful in the city, he moved to Hollywood with hopes of making a living as a screenwriter. There, Sheldon read and summarized scripts for Universal Studios for $25 a week and wrote his own screenplays in his spare time. With Ben Roberts, a collaborator, Sheldon wrote scripts for several B-movies. After a short stint with the Air Force as a pilot in World War II, Sheldon wrote Broadway musicals and by 1942, he and Roberts had three successful productions running simulataneously: The Merry Widow, Jackpot, and Dream with Music.

In 1948, Sheldon won an Oscar for his first motion picture screenplay, The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer for Best Original Screenplay. Some of his other musicals include Easter Parade (1948), the film version of Annie Get Your Gun (1950) and Cole Porter's Anything Goes (1956). In 1953, Sheldon made his directorial debut with Dream Wife, starring Cary Grant. In 1959, he cowrote the Broadway musical Redhead, which won four Tony Awards. In 1963 Sheldon produced the television show "The Patty Duke Show". By 1964, he created and was writing for "I Dream of Jeannie".

Sheldon published his first novel, a psychological thriller, The Naked Face, in 1969. His second novel, The Other Side of Midnight (1974), established him as a best-selling novelist. The book remained on the New York Times bestseller list for an entire year. Other best-selling novels of his include: A Stranger in the Mirror (1976), Bloodline (1977), Rage of Angels (1980), Master of the Game (1982), If Tomorrow Comes (1986), Windmills of the Gods (1987), The Sands of Time (1988), Memories of Midnight (1990), The Doomsday Conspiracy (1991), The Stars Shine Down (1992), Nothing Lasts Forever (1994), Morning, Noon & Night (1995), and Tell Me Your Dreams (1998). Many of his novels have been made into motion pictures, TV movies and miniseries.

Sheldon married the actress Jorja Cartwright in 1951 and together, they traveled around the world, extensively researching the exotic locales featured in his novels. Sheldon and Cartwright had one daughter, Mary, an Oxford graduate and novelist. In 1985, Jorja died suddenly of a heart attack. Four years later, Sheldon married the former child actress and advertising executive Alexandra Kostoff.

I read a good number of Sheldon's novels while I vacationed in the Philippines last December and while I worked at the labs of UMDNJ last summer. My favorite is Morning, Noon & Night. Sheldon's books incorporate sex, money, drugs, and innocence which make them fast reads. His novels often feature a heroine who dedicates most of her life to avenging a wrongdoing of her father or lover. It is easy to identify with many of Sheldon's characters since they are neither entirely bad nor good.

Sheldon's novels are meant to entertain. They contain more dramatic variety than average romance novels and are great for long train commutes.