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Sun Reporter (07/Nov/1970) - Prolific TV, Film Writer Gives Us His First Novel



Prolific TV, Film Writer Gives Us His First Novel

Sidney Sheldon, famed Broadway-Hollywood figure and author of 250 television scripts, 25 motion pictures as well as several Broadway hit musicals, has finally turned his seemingly unlimited talents to writing his first novel, "The Naked Face," which was published several weeks ago by William Morrow and Co. ($5.95 and worth every cent of it!)

Sheldon was in San Francisco recently in connection with the "first" for him, and since the novel is one of suspense and this writer is a totally dedicated suspense and/or mystery fan and had been unable to put Sheldon's novel down until the final page despite the early-morning hour of 2:30 a.m., I was more than ordinarily elated at the prospect of lunching with this prolific writer.

Suffice to say that this was ONE time that the old adage, "Anticipation is often greater than realization," did not hold true. Just the reverse proved true, in fact.

Having personally seen great film potential in the novel, my first question was: had it been sold to films? Sheldon said that Alfred Hitchcock had expressed a definite interest and that Richard Burton had expressed a desire to play the principal character, Dr. Judd Stevens, a young psychoanalyst. Burton, he said, wanted to play the role if it could be directed by Henry Hathaway, with whom Burton is presently making a film abroad. I was presumptious enough to tell the author that I had also "cast" the film and he immediately inquired who I envisioned in the role. Paul Newman, I immediately told him. Smilingly, he agreed that Newman would indeed be an ideal choice and said that he himself could envision one of three men playing Dr. Judd: Newman, Burton or Gregory Peck. Frankly, I'm still convinced it's a Paul Newman role!

Sheldon has seen fit to make his book a story of today's senseless violence and in doing so has included a beautiful young Black Harlem hooker (she is brutally murdered and mutilated after Dr. Stevens has successfully rehabilitated her), a homosexual the doctor has been treating (he, too, is murdered, but his is a "murder by mistake") and a "Godfather-type" Mafia leader. The novel builds to a sharp, shattering climax and not until the final few chapters is the reader ever aware of the real identity of the murderer.

"I wanted to say something about the violence today," explained the author, "and about a man who was nonviolent but was forced to turn to violence and to find that he liked it. It shows, averred Sheldon, "the animal in all of us."

Sheldon said it took him six months to write the novel ("I work seven days a week"). He is so deeply involved at present in television writing he has three secretaries and turns out three TV scripts per week. Among his TV credits are such series as "The Patty Duke Show," "I Dream of Jeannie" and this season's new NBC series, "Nancy." He makes his home in Los Angeles with his wife, former actress Jorja Curtright, and a 15-year-old daughter who has just completed her first novel. Creative ability obviously runs in the Sheldon family!