Sidney Sheldon had won a screenwriting Oscar (The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer), a Tony ("Redhead") and created TV sitcoms ("I Dream of Jeannie" and "Patty Duke") before beginning to write his first novel at the age of 52. He went on to sell more than 300 million books in 51 languages and inspire many television mini-series. The LATimes.com obit notes that Sheldon's novels weren't necessarily great literature: "Some critics said his dialogue was banal and his plots were unbelievable, but many grudgingly acknowledged the author's unusual talent at producing what the Washington Post once called 'good junk reading time after time.'" His first best-seller, The Other Side of Midnight, came out in 1974. Sheldon died today of pneumonia in Rancho Mirage.
Photo of Sheldon in 2003: AP Photo/Jonathan J. Dwyer via Yahoo