Sherry Lee Heiman Lansing broke barriers as the first woman studio executive when she became head of 20th Century Fox in 1980, going on to lead Paramount Studios to create wildly successful blockbusters like Forrest Gump, Braveheart, and Titanic. Lansing graduated from Northwestern and acted in two 1970 John Wayne movies before joining MGM in 1973 as a script reader for films like The China Syndrome and Kramer vs. Kramer. In a major coup, she became head of their story department in 1975, but was paid far less than men who held similar jobs. She served as president of production for 20th Century Fox from 1980–1992, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture for Fatal Attraction, before becoming the first woman chair of Paramount Pictures. Known for her caution and attention to the market, Lansing used test screenings to decide whether to re–edit or re–shoot certain scenes. In 2003, Hollywood Reporter listed her as fourth on their “Power 100” list, and when she retired in 2005, she became the first woman studio executive to get hand– and footprints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Later that year, she founded the Sherry Lansing Foundation to raise awareness for cancer research.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Sherry Lansing." (Viewed on March 4, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/lansing-sherry>.