Lansing was born Sherry Lee Duhl in Chicago, Illinois on July 31, 1944. Her mother, Margaret "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. Her mother remarried and died in 1984 from ovarian cancer. She was raised in a Jewish household. Lansing attended the University Of Chicago Laboratory School and graduated in 1962. In 1966, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Northwestern University where she was a member of Delat aSigma Tau sorority.
Lansing married Academy Award winning director William Freidkin 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.
Lansing's work at MGM eventually led, after a stint at Colombia Pictures to an appointment in 1980, at age 35, as the first female president of 20th Century Fox. She was also a partner in Jaffe/Lansing Productions with Stanley R Jaffe.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. During her tenure at Paramount, the studio enjoyed its longest and most successful string of releases since the '30s. 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). Six of the ten highest grossing Paramount films were released during her tenure which included three Academy Awards for Best Picture. 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."
She is a Regent of the University of California. She sits on the boards of the American Red Cross,The Carter Center, Donors Choose, Qualcomm, Teach for America, The American Association for Cancer Research, the Lasker Foundation and Friends of Cancer Research
In 2005, she created The Sherry Lansing Foundation which is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for cancer research. 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. The award was presented to her by Tom Cruise, her longtime friend and business partner.
In 2011, Lansing pledged $5 million to University of Chicago Laboratory Schools to build a new arts wing, including a 250-seat performance venue.
As of March 2013, Lansing was a member of the Board of Directors of the Dole Food Company. Beginning in 2012, she has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the W. M. Keck Foundation. Wikipedia