Sheldon Leonard


Actor, Producer
Sheldon Leonard

About

Also Known As
Sheldon Leonard Bershad
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
February 22, 1907
Died
January 10, 1997
Cause of Death
Natural Causes

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 th...

Family & Companions

Frances Bober
Wife
Married on June 28, 1931.

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.

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, 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.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Color Adjustment (1991)
Himself
50 Years of Action! (1986)
Himself
The Brink's Job (1978)
The Islander (1978)
Paul Lazarro
Top Secret (1978)
Carl Vitale
Pocketful of Miracles (1961)
Steve Darcey
Guys and Dolls (1955)
Harry the Horse
Money from Home (1954)
Jumbo Schneider
Stop, You're Killing Me (1953)
Lefty
The Diamond Queen (1953)
Mogul
Here Come the Nelsons (1952)
Duke
Breakdown (1952)
Nick Samson
Young Man With Ideas (1952)
Brick Davis
Behave Yourself! (1951)
"Short-wave" Bert
Come Fill the Cup (1951)
Lennie Garr
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951)
Morgan
The Iroquois Trail (1950)
Ogane
My Dream Is Yours (1949)
Grimes
Take One False Step (1949)
Pacciano
Daughter of the Jungle (1949)
Dalton Kraik
Two Knights from Brooklyn (1949)
Alias a Gentleman (1948)
Harry Bealer
Joe Palooka in Winner Take All (1948)
Herman
If You Knew Susie (1948)
Steve Garland
Open Secret (1948)
Sergeant Mike Frontelli
Madonna of the Desert (1948)
Nick Julian
Jinx Money (1948)
Lippy Harris
Shep Comes Home (1948)
"Swifty" Lewis
The Gangster (1947)
Cornell
Sinbad the Sailor (1947)
Auctioneer
Violence (1947)
Fred Stalk
The Fabulous Joe (1947)
Louie
Somewhere in the Night (1946)
Sam
Her Kind of Man (1946)
Felix Bender
The Gentleman Misbehaves (1946)
Trigger Stazzi
Bowery Bombshell (1946)
Ace Deuce
Decoy (1946)
Joe Portugal
The Last Crooked Mile (1946)
Editor "Wires" MacGuire
Rainbow Over Texas (1946)
Kirby Haynes
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Nick
Radio Stars on Parade (1945)
Lucky Maddox
Captain Kidd (1945)
Cyprian Boyle
Frontier Gal (1945)
Blackie
Crime, Inc. (1945)
Captain Ferrone
Why Girls Leave Home (1945)
Chris Williams
River Gang (1945)
Peg Leg
Zombies on Broadway (1945)
Ace Miller
Uncertain Glory (1944)
Henri Duval
Gambler's Choice (1944)
Chappie Wilson
The Falcon in Hollywood (1944)
Louie Buchanan
To Have and Have Not (1944)
Lieutenant Coyo
Timber Queen (1944)
Smacksie Golden
Trocadero (1944)
Mickey Jones
City Without Men (1943)
Monk LaRue
Hit the Ice (1943)
[Harry] "Silky" Fellowsby
Klondike Kate (1943)
"Sometime" Smith
Harvest Melody (1943)
Chuck
Taxi, Mister (1943)
Glorio [previously known as The Frisco Ghost]
Passport to Suez (1943)
Johnny Booth
Pierre of the Plains (1942)
Clerou
Tortilla Flat (1942)
Tito Ralph
Born to Sing (1942)
Pete Detroit
Lucky Jordan (1942)
Slip Moran
Street of Chance (1942)
Joe Marucci
Week-End in Havana (1941)
Boris
Rise and Shine (1941)
Menance
Private Nurse (1941)
John Winton
Buy Me That Town (1941)
Chink Moran
Tall, Dark and Handsome (1941)
Pretty Willie
Married Bachelor (1941)
Johnny Branigan
Another Thin Man (1939)
Phil Church

Writer (Feature Film)

Shadow of Terror (1945)
Original Story

Producer (Feature Film)

I Spy Returns (1994)
Executive Producer
Top Secret (1978)
Executive Producer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Color Adjustment (1991)
Other
50 Years of Action! (1986)
Other

Director (Special)

Aces Up (1974)
Director
Singles (1972)
Director
Make More Room For Daddy (1967)
Director
Everything Happens to Me (1961)
Director
The Andy Griffith Show (1960)
Director

Cast (Special)

The Dick Van Dyke Show Remembered (1994)
The Andy Griffith Show Reunion (1993)
The 9th Annual Television Academy Hall of Fame (1993)
Performer
Big Eddie (1975)
Edward "Big Eddie" Smith
The Wonderful World of Burlesque I (1965)
Guest
It's Always Sunday (1956)
George

Producer (Special)

Aces Up (1974)
Producer
Singles (1972)
Producer
Everything Happens to Me (1961)
Producer
The Andy Griffith Show (1960)
Producer

Cast (Short)

The Gem of the Ocean (1934)

Life Events

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"

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"

1955

TV directing debut, "It's Always Jan"

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"

Videos

Movie Clip

Captain Kidd (1945) - Deep Enough To Bury A Man The title character (Charles Laughton) makes an example of Blades (Abner Biberman) as his crew (including John Carradine, Gilbert Roland and Sheldon Leonard) bury loot off Madagascar, in an early scene from Captain Kidd, 1945.
Captain Kidd (1945) - Opening, Dead Men Don't Talk The opening sequence of director Rowland V. Lee's Captain Kidd, 1945, leads into some historical framing and the title character (Charles Laughton) commenting on dead men keeping secrets.
Guys And Dolls (1955) - Adelaide Frank Sinatra (as "Nathan Detroit") with his one ballad, Frank Loesser's "Adelaide," sung to his fiancè (Vivian Blaine), which he chose not to sing fully in character, in the Samuel Goldwyn production of Guys And Dolls, 1955, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
Tortilla Flat (1942) - Ay, Paisano! John Garfield (as "Danny"), Spencer Tracy (as "Pilon"), Akim Tamiroff (as "Pablo") and Sheldon Leonard (as "Tito") sing "Ay, Paisano!" by Frank Loesser and Franz Waxman, followed by chatter, in Tortilla Flat, 1942, very loosely based on the John Steinbeck novel.
Zombies On Broadway (1945) - Are You A Zombie? We first meet Sheldon Leonard as gangster turned impresario Ace, then the stars, his press agents, Wally Brown and tubbier Alan Carney as Jerry and Mike, the RKO riposte to Abbott And Costello, in Gangsters On Broadway, 1945, with Bela Lugosi and Anne Jeffreys.
Another Thin Man (1939) - Thanks For Not Shooting Me Nick Charles (William Powell) has wheedled a meeting with the dangerous Church (Sheldon Leonard), who has staff (Abner Biberman, Muriel Hutchison) on hand, and who, claiming prophetic dreams, has threatened Nick's client, in Another Thin Man, 1939.
Sinbad The Sailor (1947) - No Bids Now in Basra, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (title character) trying to pay nothing for ownership of a ship he salvaged, pal Abbu (George Tobias) reluctant, the auctioneer (Sheldon Leonard) frustrated, and mysterious Shireen (Maureen O'Hara) intervening, in Sinbad The Sailor, 1947.
Lucky Jordan - He's Uglier Than Me Henchman Slip (Sheldon Leonard) discovers he's failed to kill his boss Lucky (Alan Ladd), who's busy hiring a new double (Dave Willock), then jousting with lawyer Higgins (Lloyd Corrigan), setting premises in Paramount's Lucky Jordan, 1942.

Trailer

Pocketful Of Miracles (1961) -- (Original Trailer) Bette Davis plays Apple Annie in Frank Capra's last movie, Pocketful Of Miracles (1961).
Guys And Dolls - (Original Trailer) Ed Sullivan hosts the trailer for the movie version of the Broadway musical Guys And Dolls (1955) starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.
Born to Sing - (Original Trailer) The Busby Berkeley-choreographed "Ballad For Americans" is a highlight of the MGM musical Born To Sing (1942).
Alias a Gentleman - (Original Trailer) Wallace Beery plays an aging convict who tries to keep his daughter from following in his footsteps in Alias a Gentleman (1948).
Tortilla Flat - (Original Trailer) Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield star in Tortilla Flat (1942), based on the novel by John Steinbeck.
Pierre of the Plains - (Original Trailer) A French-Canadian trapper's adventures jeopardize his romance with an innkeeper in Pierre of the Plains (1942).
Sinbad the Sailor -- (Original Trailer) Sinbad, the Arabian Nights adventurer (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), sets off to find the lost treasure of Alexander the Great in Sinbad the Sailor (1947), co-starring Maureen O'Hara and Walter Slezak.
My Dream is Yours -- (Original Trailer) A talent scout turns a young unknown into a radio singing star in My Dream is Yours (1949) starring Jack Carson and Doris Day.
Her Kind Of Man - (Original Trailer) A reporter comes between a gangster and his mistress during the Roaring Twenties in Her Kind Of Man (1946) starring Dane Clark and Zachary Scott.
Married Bachelor - (Original Trailer) Robert Young is a famous bachelor who writes about romance. The only problem is he's married...and his wife's expecting in Married Bachelor (1941).
Uncertain Glory - (Original Trailer) Errol Flynn is a French criminal who escapes the guillotine by posing as a resistance saboteur in Raoul Walsh's Uncertain Glory (1944).
Jinx Money - (Original Trailer) The Bowery Boys find a dead gangster's loot-and the mob out to get it back in Jinx Money (1948)

Family

Frank Bershad
Father
Anna Bershad
Mother
Andrea Bershad
Daughter
Formerly married to Alexander Urbach; survived him.
Stephen W Bershad
Son
Survived him.

Companions

Frances Bober
Wife
Married on June 28, 1931.

Bibliography

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.