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Sherry Lansing

Sherry Lansing
File:William Friedkin Sherry Lansing Deauville 2012 2.jpg
Lansing, right, with William Friedkin at the 2012 Deauville American Film Festival.
Born Sherry Lee Duhl
(1944-07-31) July 31, 1944 (age 76)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Film studio executive
Years active 1968–2008
Spouse(s) Michael L. Brownstein (1967[citation needed]–1970; divorced)
William Friedkin (1991–present)

Sherry Lansing (born July 31, 1944) is an American former actress and film studio executive.[1][2][3] She is a former CEO of Paramount Pictures,[4] and when she was the president of production at 20th Century Fox, she was the first woman to head a Hollywood movie studio.[5][6][7] In 1996, she became the first woman to be named Pioneer of the Year by the Foundation of the Motion Picture Pioneers,[8] and she was the first female movie studio head to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[9][10] In 2005, she became the first female movie studio head to place hand and foot prints at the Grauman's Chinese Theater.[11][12] In 2001, she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies' Home Journal,[13] and The Hollywood Reporter named her fourth on its Power 100 list in 2003.[14]

Personal life

Lansing was born Sherry Lee Duhl in Chicago, Illinois on July 31, 1944. Her mother, Margot Heimann, fled from Nazi Germany in 1937 at the age of 17. Her father, David Duhl, was a real-estate investor who died when she was nine.[15] Her mother remarried and died in 1984 from ovarian cancer.[16] She was raised in a Jewish household.[17] Lansing attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and graduated in 1962. In 1966, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Northwestern University,[2] where she was a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority.

Lansing married Academy award winning director William Friedkin on July 6, 1991; he had previously been married to French film star Jeanne Moreau. By this marriage, Lansing has two stepsons, Jack and Cedric.


Lansing pursued an acting career (appearing in two films made in 1970, Loving and Rio Lobo, starring John Wayne) but, dissatisfied with her own acting skills, she decided to learn more about the film industry from the ground up. She took a job with MGM as head script reader and worked on two successful films, The China Syndrome and Kramer vs. Kramer.[3]

Lansing's work at MGM eventually led, after a stint at Columbia Pictures, to an appointment in 1980, at age 35, as the first female president of 20th Century Fox.[3][5] She was also a partner in Jaffe/Lansing Productions with Stanley R. Jaffe.[5] The company released a consistent string of minor hits through Paramount before achieving success with the box-office smash Fatal Attraction in 1987, for which Jaffe and Lansing received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture the following year. In 1992, she was offered the chairmanship of Paramount Pictures' Motion Picture Group.[5] During her tenure at Paramount, the studio enjoyed its longest and most successful string of releases since the '30s.[3] Under Lansing, the studio produced such blockbuster hits as Forrest Gump, Braveheart, and what was, at the time, history's highest grossing film – Titanic (the latter two with Fox).[3][5][18][19] Six of the ten highest grossing Paramount films were released during her tenure which included three Academy Awards for Best Picture.[18] Overall, 80% of the films released by Lansing were profitable, a track record unmatched by any other long term studio management leader.

As studio chief, she focused on bottom-line cost rather than market share, preferring to take fewer risks and make lower-budget films than other studios. Viacom (which purchased Paramount in 1994) decided to split the company into two parts in 2004 and Lansing stepped down at the end of that year after an almost unprecedented twelve-year tenure atop Hollywood's legendary "Best Show in Town."[1][19]

She is a Regent of the University of California.[2][5][18] She sits on the boards of the American Red Cross,[4] The Carter Center,[19] DonorsChoose, Qualcomm, Teach for America, The American Association for Cancer Research,[4] the Lasker Foundation and Friends of Cancer Research.[2][5]

In 2005, she created The Sherry Lansing Foundation which is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for cancer research.[1][5][19] She is a recipient of UCLA Anderson School of Management's highest honor-the Exemplary Leadership in Management (ELM) Award.

In 2007, she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work in cancer research at the 79th Academy Awards.[4] The award was presented to her by Tom Cruise, her longtime friend and business partner.

In 2008, Lansing gave the commencement speech to the graduating class at Penn State University. In 2011, she gave the commencement speech at the graduation ceremony at the University of Miami. It was later revealed, thanks to recordings of the two speeches both being available on YouTube, that the two speeches were the same.[20]

In 2011, Lansing pledged $5 million to University of Chicago Laboratory Schools to build a new arts wing, including a 250-seat performance venue.[21]

As of March 2013, Lansing was a member of the Board of Directors of the Dole Food Company.[22] Beginning in 2012, she has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the W. M. Keck Foundation.[23]



Actress or herself

Awards and recognition


  1. ^ a b c d "Sherry Lansing official biography". The Sherry Lansing Foundation. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Biography - Sherry Lansing". Weekend America. January 7, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  3. ^ a b c d e The Editors of CosmoGIRL, Hearst Books (2007). Cosmogirl! Secrets of Success: 38 Leaders Tell You How to Achieve Your Dreams (illustrated ed.). Sterling. pp. pages 46–50. ISBN 1-58816-666-X. OCLC 9781588166661. Retrieved June 20, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Sherry Lansing to Get Humanitarian Oscar". Fox News. December 15, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Distinguished filmmaker, philanthropist/studio executive to receive honorary degrees". Penn State News. November 2, 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  6. ^ a b Judy Hevrdejs and Mike Conklin (March 17, 1996). "More women in films is studio chief's wish". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  7. ^ Desilu was almost entirely a television studio rather than a movie studio.
  8. ^ a b "Local TV reporters form "chain reaction" in motion picture roles". Chicago Tribune. July 31, 1996. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  9. ^ a b "Walk of Fame welcomes its 1st female executive". Deseret News. August 1, 1996. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  10. ^ a b "Executive earns a star". San Jose Mercury News. August 2, 1996. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  11. ^ a b ".(Newsmakers)". Jet. March 14, 2005. Retrieved June 20, 2009. 
  12. ^ a b "Just for Variety". Daily Variety. February 1, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  13. ^ "Women’s magazine rates influential females". Temple News. November 29, 2001. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  14. ^ Cashman, Greer Fay (June 22, 2005). "Reflections of a power player". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  15. ^ Clehane, Diane (February 22, 2007). "Lansing focuses on philanthropy". Variety. Retrieved 2010-08-10. 
  16. ^ "Sherry Lansing: from making movies to curing cancer / UCLA Today". 
  17. ^ "Sherry Lansing’s encore career". Jewish Journal. 2012-10-03. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  18. ^ a b c d "UCLA Anderson School of Management to Honor Sherry Lansing with 2005 Exemplary Leadership in Management Award; Honor Recognizes Outstanding Business and Community Leadership.". UCLA. April 25, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  19. ^ a b c d The My Hero Project, ed. (2005). My Hero: Extraordinary People on the Heroes Who Inspire Them. Simon and Schuster. pp. pages 96–102. ISBN 0-7432-9240-5. OCLC 9780743292405. Retrieved June 20, 2009. 
  20. ^ #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
    This page is a soft redirect. "Lansing Addresses Spring 2008 Graduating Class". PennState. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  21. ^ "Film honcho donates $5 million to U. of C. Laboratory Schools". Chicago Tribune. November 30, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Dole | Company Info | Board of Directors". Dole | Company Info | Investor Relations Home. Thousand Oaks, CA, USA: Dole Food Company, Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  23. ^ "W.M. Keck Foundation 2012 Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Just for Variety". Daily Variety. December 21, 2004. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Past Recipients". Retrieved 2013-03-17. 

External links

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