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Backlot: 80 Years of The Hollywood Reporter

Sherry Lansing
Photofest
Lansing poses with fellow 1981 Women in Film's Crystal Award winners Jane Fonda abnd film editor Verna Fields (upper right). Former WIF president Bonny Dore is at upper left.

The most glamorous and memorable moments from a storied history.

Sherry Lansing, former model, named head of Fox Productions,” ran the infamous 1980 New York Times headline when the exec became the first woman tapped to run a motion picture studio. “I had worked my way up through the studio system,” she says. “I had literally held all the jobs: story editor, vp of creative affairs, senior vp of production. If a man had gotten the job, no one would have thought it unusual. I was flattered it was on the front page, but it showed me that women simply weren’t treated equally.” Besides, the Times headline could have just as easily been: “Former L.A. high school math teacher named head of Fox Productions.”

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“When I look back, what I’m proudest of is how far we’ve come and how things have changed.” — Sherry Lansing

She did that for 3½ years in Watts and East L.A., while the modeling was only for two years after college. What made her Fox’s pick was her success at Columbia with The China Syndrome and Kramer vs. Kramer (they had just received 13 Oscar nominations between them). “This was way before the day when there were women running studios,” she says. “Now, when a woman gets a job like that, it gets the proper journalistic coverage in the business section.”