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Sherry Lansing
Lansing in 2002
Sherry Lee Duhl

(1944-07-31) July 31, 1944 (age 79)
Alma materNorthwestern University (BS)
  • Film studio executive
  • actress
Years active1968–2008
Michael Brownstein
(m. 1967; div. 1970)
(m. 1991; died 2023)

Sherry Lansing (born Sherry Lee Duhl; July 31, 1944) is an American former film studio executive. The chairwoman of the Universal Music Group board of directors, she was the chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures[1] and president of production at 20th Century Fox prior to her retirement. From 1999 to 2022, she was on the University of California Board of Regents. In 2005, she became the first female movie studio head to place hand and foot prints at the Grauman's Chinese Theater.[2][3] In 2001, she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in the US by Ladies' Home Journal,[4] and The Hollywood Reporter named her number 1 on its Power 100 list numerous times.[5]

Early life

Lansing was born Sherry Lee Duhl in Chicago, Illinois, to Margaret Heimann and real estate investor David Duhl. Her mother fled from Nazi Germany in 1937, at the age of 17. After her father died when Lansing was nine, her mother remarried to Norton S. Lansing.[6][7] She was raised in a Jewish household.[8][9]

Lansing attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and graduated in 1962. In 1966, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Northwestern University and graduated cum laude. She was a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority.[10]


Acting career

A former mathematics teacher, Lansing briefly dabbled with acting, appearing in the films Loving and Rio Lobo (both 1970), as well as on several television shows. Dissatisfied with her own acting skills, she decided to learn more about the film industry from the ground up.[11]

Career in production

Lansing took a job with MGM as head script reader. She then became VP of Production at Columbia Pictures and oversaw two highly-successful films, The China Syndrome and Kramer vs. Kramer, both released in 1979.[12] Her work at Columbia Pictures eventually led to an appointment with 20th Century Fox in 1980, at age 35, as the first female production president of a major studio.[12][13][14] She resigned in December 1982[14] and became a partner with Stanley R. Jaffe to form Jaffe-Lansing Productions based at Paramount Pictures.[13] The company released a consistent string of minor hits through Paramount before achieving box-office success with Fatal Attraction in 1987, for which Jaffe and Lansing received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture the following year.

The partnership also produced The Accused (1988) starring Jodie Foster, about rape and its impact on a victim's life. The film featured a graphic rape scene and was highly controversial when released. Made with a small budget of $6 million, it grossed over $37 million worldwide, becoming a box office hit as well as receiving critical praise with Foster scoring the Academy Award for Best Actress.[15]

Other Jaffe-Lansing productions include Black Rain (1989), starring Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, and Ken Takakura, as well as School Ties (1992), starring Brendan Fraser. On her own, Lansing produced the very successful Indecent Proposal (1993), starring Robert Redford, Demi Moore, and Woody Harrelson.

Lansing in 1980

Chairman of Paramount

In 1992, Lansing was offered the chairmanship of Paramount Pictures' Motion Picture Group.[13] During her tenure at Paramount, the studio enjoyed its longest and most successful string of releases since the 1930s.[12] Under Lansing, the studio produced such hits as Forrest Gump, Braveheart, and what was, at the time, history's highest-grossing film – Titanic (the latter two during a partnership with 20th Century Fox).[12][13][16][17] Six of the ten highest-grossing Paramount films were released during her tenure which included three Academy Awards for Best Picture.[16]

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."[18][17]

She served as a Regent of the University of California from 1999–2022, and as chairman of the board from 2011–2013.[10][13][16] She sits on the boards of the Broad Museum, The Carter Center,[17] the Entertainment Industry Foundation, The W.M. Keck Foundation, the Lasker Foundation, the Pacific Council on International Policy, and Scripps Research. In 2007, she founded the EnCorps STEM Teachers Program, on whose board she serves as chair. She is also co-founder of the Stand Up To Cancer initiative, which funds research teams bringing cancer treatments to patients faster.

Chairman of Universal Music Group Board of Directors

Lansing was named Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Universal Music Group in 2023.[19]

Philanthropic career

In 2005, she created the Sherry Lansing Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for cancer research, K-12 public education, and encore career opportunities.[18][13][17] She is a recipient of UCLA Anderson School of Management's highest honor-the Exemplary Leadership in Management (ELM) Award.[citation needed]

In 2007, she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work in cancer research at the 79th Academy Awards.[1]

In 2011, Lansing pledged $5 million to University of Chicago Laboratory Schools to build a new arts wing, including a 250-seat performance venue.[20]

In March 2020, she hosted a fundraiser for Joe Biden at her home.[21]

Personal life

Lansing married fellow student Michael Brownstein in 1967 while attending Northwestern University. They divorced in 1970.[22] She was married to director William Friedkin from 1991 until his death in 2023.[23][24]

Lansing and former MGM studio head James T. Aubrey were struck by a car while crossing Wilshire Boulevard in the mid-1970s. Both were badly hurt and Lansing had to use crutches for a year and a half. Aubrey nursed her back to health. "He came every day. He would say, 'You're not going to limp.' My own mother and father couldn't have given me more support," she told Variety in 2004.[citation needed]



Actress or herself

Awards and recognition


  1. ^ a b c "Sherry Lansing to Get Humanitarian Oscar". Fox News. December 15, 2006. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
  2. ^ a b ".(Newsmakers)". Jet. March 14, 2005. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Just for Variety". Daily Variety. February 1, 2005. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
  4. ^ "Women's magazine rates influential females". Temple News. November 29, 2001. Archived from the original on October 4, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  5. ^ Cashman, Greer Fay (June 22, 2005). "Reflections of a power player". Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  6. ^ Clehane, Diane (February 22, 2007). "Lansing focuses on philanthropy". Variety. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  7. ^ "Sherry Lansing: from making movies to curing cancer / UCLA Today". Archived from the original on December 12, 2012.
  8. ^ "Sherry Lansing's encore career". Jewish Journal. October 3, 2012. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  9. ^ "Sherry Lansing". Gettysburg Times. To me, I'm just a nice Jewish girl from Chicago who wanted to make movies
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Biography – Sherry Lansing". Weekend America. January 7, 2006. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  11. ^ "Lansing, Sherry (Lee)."Current Biography 1981.The H.W. Wilson Company New York.1981.p. 265.
  12. ^ a b c d The Editors of CosmoGIRL (2007). Cosmogirl! Secrets of Success: 2 Leaders Tell You How to Achieve Your Dreams (illustrated ed.). Hearst Books, Sterling. pp. 46–50. ISBN 978-1-58816-666-1. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Distinguished filmmaker, philanthropist/studio executive to receive honorary degrees". Penn State News. November 2, 2007. Archived from the original on September 29, 2020. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  14. ^ a b Harwood, Jim (December 21, 1982). "Lansing Resigns as 20th-Fox Prod'n President; Silence About Col-HBO-CBS Job". Daily Variety. p. 1.
  15. ^ "1989 - - Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences". Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  16. ^ 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 June 21, 2009.
  17. ^ a b c d The My Hero Project, ed. (2005). My Hero: Extraordinary People on the Heroes Who Inspire Them. Simon & Schuster. pp. 96–102. ISBN 978-0-7432-9240-5. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
  18. ^ a b c "Sherry Lansing official biography". The Sherry Lansing Foundation. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  19. ^ "Sir Lucian Grainge extends contract as Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group for 5 more years". Music Business Worldwide. March 30, 2023. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  20. ^ "Film honcho donates $5 million to U. of C. Laboratory Schools". Chicago Tribune. November 30, 2011.
  21. ^ Hayden, Erik (February 25, 2020). "Sherry Lansing to Host Joe Biden Fundraiser". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  22. ^ "Sherry's life highlight reel". Variety. February 22, 2007.
  23. ^ Anderson, Susan Heller (July 11, 1991). "Chronicle". The New York Times.
  24. ^ Galloway, Stephen (April 24, 2017). "Sherry Lansing: Why I Left the Movie Business". The Hollywood Reporter.
  25. ^ Posted: September 17, 2017, 12:53 AM EDT (September 17, 2017). "Ten women added to National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca". Retrieved September 28, 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ "Sherry Lansing". The Hero Project. 2006. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  27. ^ "Just for Variety". Daily Variety. December 21, 2004. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  28. ^ Judy Hevrdejs and Mike Conklin (March 17, 1996). "More women in films is studio chief's wish". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  29. ^ "Local TV reporters form "chain reaction" in motion picture roles". Chicago Tribune. July 31, 1996. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  30. ^ "Walk of Fame welcomes its 1st female executive". Deseret News. August 1, 1996. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
  31. ^ "Executive earns a star". San Jose Mercury News. August 2, 1996. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
  32. ^ "Outstanding Alumnae Awards". Archived from the original on October 3, 2014. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  33. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  34. ^ "Past Recipients". Archived from the original on June 30, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2013.