Sid Sheinberg Regrets Calling James Garner a "Cry Baby"

Sid Sheinberg, left, and James Garner
Sid Sheinberg, left, and James Garner

A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Litigator Neville Johnson eulogized James Garner in The Hollywood Reporter's Aug. 1 issue for his nine-year court battle against Universal, starting in 1980, over the actor’s share of The Rockford Files profits.

Johnson wrote it ended in a confidential $14 million settlement and with Sid Sheinberg, then-president of parent MCA, calling the actor a “cry baby,” since he’d been paid $5 million already. 

Now Sheinberg, 79, writes to THR and Johnson to clear his side of the story.

The full letter from Sheinberg reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Johnson:

Someone called your article in the August 1st edition of the Hollywood Reporter to my attention.

Such article suggests that “Universal,” a division of MCA for which I was responsible, settled the Jim Garner lawsuit for an amount “reputed to be $14 million.” Frankly, although I do not recall the exact settlement, I do know that it was not in the neighborhood of “$14 million.”

I wouldn’t want any reader of your article to believe that the settlement with Mr. Garner somehow resulted in a change in Universal’s preexisting policy and practice. We lived by the terms of our contracts with profit participants.

I regret referring to Mr. Garner as a “cry baby.” I am sure he believed in the position he was asserting. I was simply trying to be funny, and on that occasion at least, I probably failed.

I join Jim’s family and fans in mourning the loss of not only a great actor, but a man of high conviction.


Sid Sheinberg

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