05 November 2008

RIP: Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton
23 Oct 1942- 4 Nov 2008

ZUI this article from the Chicago Tribune:
Michael Crichton, the doctor-turned-author of bestselling thrillers such as "The Terminal Man" and "Jurassic Park" and a Hollywood writer and director whose credits include "Westworld" and "Coma," has died. He was 66.

Crichton died in Los Angeles on Tuesday "after a courageous and private battle against cancer," his family said in a statement.

For nearly four decades, the 6-foot-9 writer was a towering presence in the worlds of publishing and filmmaking.

"There was no one like Crichton, because he could both entertain and educate," Lynn Nesbit, Crichton's agent since the late '60s, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.


Crichton was still in Harvard Medical School when he wrote his first best-seller: "The Andromeda Strain," a fast-paced scientifically and technologically detailed 1969 thriller about a team of scientists attempting to save mankind from a deadly microorganism brought to Earth by a military satellite. It was made into a movie in 1971.

With his success at writing thrillers, Crichton abandoned medicine to become a full-time writer whose novels in the '70s and '80s included "The Terminal Man," "The Great Train Robbery," "Eaters of the Dead," "Congo" and "Sphere."

Crichton made his feature film directing debut in 1973 with "Westworld," which he also wrote, about a fantasy theme park for wealthy vacationers whose fun is spoiled when malfunctioning androids turn deadly.

He directed five other movies in the '70s and '80s, including "Coma," "The Great Train Robbery," "Looker," "Runaway" and "Physical Evidence."

As a novelist, Crichton came back stronger than ever in the 1990s with bestsellers such as "Jurassic Park," "Rising Sun," "Disclosure," "The Lost World," "Airframe" and "Timeline."

During the same decade, he co-wrote the screenplay for "Jurassic Park," the 1993 Spielberg-directed blockbuster hit; and he co-wrote the screenplay for the 1996 action-thriller "Twister" with his fourth wife, actress Anne-Marie Martin, with whom he had a daughter, Taylor.

Crichton also created "ER," the long-running NBC medical drama that debuted in 1994 and became the No. 1-rated series the next year.


The oldest of four children, Crichton was born Oct. 23, 1942, in Chicago and grew up in Roslyn, N.Y.

He developed wide interests at an early age, he later said, recalling his mother taking her children to plays, museums, movies and concerts several times a week.


Intending to become a writer, he entered Harvard as an English major in 1960. But after his professors criticized his writing style, he changed his major to anthropology.

After graduating summa cum laude in 1964, he spent a year on a fellowship as a visiting lecturer on anthropology at Cambridge University in England.

Returning home, he entered Harvard Medical School.

To pay his way through medical school, he began writing paperback thrillers under the pen names John Lange and Jeffery Hudson.

Of Crichton's movies, I've seen The Great Train Robbery, Jurassic Park and its two sequels, Timeline and about half of The 13th Warrior. I've seen bits and pieces of ER, though I've never watched a complete episode.* And I've read four or five of his books: The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Timeline and possibly Sphere. (I don't recognise any of the John Lange titles.)

* By the time I learned that I knew one of the actresses, she was already off the show.

1 comment:

Jen Robinson said...

This one shocked me. He could have had so many other books in him... I liked Timeline quite a bit.