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Also Known As: Sheldon Leonard Bershad Died: January 10, 1997
Born: February 22, 1907 Cause of Death: natural causes
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: producer, actor, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This stage and film character player who specialized in Brooklynesque hoods and heavies, both serious and comic, in the 1940s and 50s (including "Harry the Horse" in the 1955 film of "Guys and Dolls") turned innovative, and highly successful TV producer in the mid-50s. Sheldon Leonard began his film career in the 1927 "The Overland Stage", but returned to the real stage until 1939. He then appeared in "Another Thin Man", continuing to act in more than 70 films through the 1970s. Among his better-known were "Weekend in Havana" (1941), "Lucky Jordan" (1942), Howard Hawks' "To Have and Have Not" (1944), Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), as the bartender who throws James Stewart out of his tavern, and "A Pocketful of Miracles" (1961).Credited with introducing motion picture techniques to filming TV sitcoms and creating the spin-off after Andy Griffith made a guest appearance on "The Danny Thomas Show" (ABC and CBS, 1953-64), Leonard also produced "The Andy Griffith Show" (CBS, 1960-68) which led to "Gomer Pyle, USMC" (CBS, 1964-69). Among the other immensely popular, top-rated 1950s and 60s series he launched were "The Real McCoys" (ABC and CBS, 1957-63) and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (CBS,...

This stage and film character player who specialized in Brooklynesque hoods and heavies, both serious and comic, in the 1940s and 50s (including "Harry the Horse" in the 1955 film of "Guys and Dolls") turned innovative, and highly successful TV producer in the mid-50s. Sheldon Leonard began his film career in the 1927 "The Overland Stage", but returned to the real stage until 1939. He then appeared in "Another Thin Man", continuing to act in more than 70 films through the 1970s. Among his better-known were "Weekend in Havana" (1941), "Lucky Jordan" (1942), Howard Hawks' "To Have and Have Not" (1944), Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), as the bartender who throws James Stewart out of his tavern, and "A Pocketful of Miracles" (1961).

Credited with introducing motion picture techniques to filming TV sitcoms and creating the spin-off after Andy Griffith made a guest appearance on "The Danny Thomas Show" (ABC and CBS, 1953-64), Leonard also produced "The Andy Griffith Show" (CBS, 1960-68) which led to "Gomer Pyle, USMC" (CBS, 1964-69). Among the other immensely popular, top-rated 1950s and 60s series he launched were "The Real McCoys" (ABC and CBS, 1957-63) and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (CBS, 1961-66); the stars of those series made their TV debuts on programs directed and/or produced by Leonard. Leonard also produced the innovative action-adventure series "I Spy" (NBC, 1965-68), noted not only for featuring a black lead (Bill Cosby) in an interracial team during primetime, but also for its emphasis on location photography and production values.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Aces Up (1974) Director
2.
  Singles (1972) Director
3.
4.
5.
  Andy Griffith Show, The (1960) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Color Adjustment (1992) Himself
2.
 50 Years of Action! (1986) Himself
3.
 Top Secret (1978) Carl Vitale
4.
 Brink's Job, The (1978) J Edgar Hoover
5.
 Islander, The (1978) Paul Lazarro
6.
 Pocketful of Miracles (1961) Steve Darcey
7.
 Guys and Dolls (1955) Harry the Horse
8.
 Money from Home (1954) Jumbo Schneider
9.
 Stop, You're Killing Me (1953) Lefty
10.
 The Diamond Queen (1953) Mogul
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1927:
Film debut, "The Overland Stage"
1929:
Briefly worked on Wall Street
1930:
Appeared on the Broadway stage in "Kiss the Boys Goodbye", "Having Wonderful Time" and "Margin of Error"
:
Performed on radio with Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Phil Harris
1939:
Talking film debut, "Another Thin Man"
1945:
Credited with story for feature film, "Shadow of Terror"
1952:
TV acting debut on "Your Jeweler's Showcase"
:
Produced and played Danny Thomas's masseur on "Make Room For Daddy"; later played his agent on "The Danny Thomas Show" (1957-64)
1955:
TV directing debut, "It's Always Jan"
:
Executive produced, directed and played offstage voice of forger Floyd Bariscale on "The Dick Van Dyke Show"
1975:
Starred as Runyonesque gambler-gone-legitmate in short-lived TV series, "Big Eddie"
1978:
Played J. Edgar Hoover in feature "The Brink's Job"
:
Was guest professor, Syracuse University
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Stuyvesant High School: New York , New York - 1925
Syracuse University: Syracuse , New York - 1929

Notes

"The Danny Thomas Show" which Leonard co-produced during the 1950s was one of the first situation comedies produced with three motion picture cameras using traditional film editing techniques.

Leonard was President of T&L Productions.

He was an officer and partner of the Mayberry Productions.

Leonard was an officer and partner of the Calvada Productions.

He was also an officer and partner of the Sheldon Leonard Enterprises.

He was named Man of the Year by the National Association of Radio Announcers.

He was honored as Man of the Year by the Professional Managers Guild.

Leonard was named B'nai B'rith Man of the Year.

He has received the Arents Medal from Syracuse University.

He was given a NAACP Special Achievement Award.

Leonard received a National Collegiate Athletic Association Special Tribute Award.

He was given Letterman of Distinction Award from the Syracuse University Varsity Club.

Leonard was inducted into the TV Hall of Fame of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1992.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Frances Bober. Married on June 28, 1931.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Frank Bershad.
mother:
Anna Bershad.
daughter:
Andrea Bershad. Formerly married to Alexander Urbach; survived him.
son:
Stephen W Bershad. Survived him.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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