Sid Sheinberg, the man who greenlit Jaws and gave the world Steven Spielberg passed Thursday at age 84. His death was announced in an Instagram post by his son, producer/director Jon Sheinberg. No cause of death was immediately revealed.
“Sadly my dad (Sid Sheinberg) died today ... He was an amazing man and will be missed very much. We loved him tremendously and will forever miss him.”
For over 40 years, Sidney Sheinberg was a lawyer who served as president of COO of MCA Inc. and Universal Studios. Sid was the man who gave Steven Spielberg his first break in TV as a director, and built Universal into a major studio. Universal released the highest-grossing films of the last three decades of the 20th century, including Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park. Sheinberg’s other notable film successes included Schindler’s List and Back to the Future.
While supportive and nurturng of talent, Sid was also known to go head to head with directors if he didn;t agree with them. Director Terry Gilliam felt the wrath over the final cut of the filmBrazil, an enormous executive/creative battle that was memorialized in a film and book.
Born Jan. 14, 1935 to Jewish immigrants, Sheinberg grew up in Texas and went to Columbia Law School in New York. He taught at UCLA School of Law and joined Revue Productions, an MCA TV subsidary, as his path to show business.
"My heart is broken at this news [of Sid Sheinberg's passing]. For now let me just say that Sid had a big personality and a tender heart. He was the tallest most stand up guy I ever knew. He gave birth to my career and made Universal my home. He gave me 'Jaws,' I gave him 'E.T.,' and he gave me 'Schindler’s List.' We were a team for 25 years and he was my dear friend for 50. I have no concept about how to accept that Sid is gone. For the rest of my life I will owe him more than I can express." — Steven Spielberg
Sheinberg was also an influence in the music industry, having negotiated the purchase of Motown Records in 1988 for $61 million and the purchase of Geffen Records two years later for $550 million.
Sid wasn’s all business. as he was also the Vice Chair of the Board of Human Rights Watch and co-founder of The Children’s Action Network, as well as a member of the board of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He was also vice chairman emeritus of the Museum of Television and Radio, and served on the Board of Research to Prevent Blindness for 15 years.
Sheinberg married actress Lorraine Gary in 1956, producing sons Bill and Jon. Our thoughts are with Sid’s family and friends at this time.
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