Michael Crichton was a writer and filmmaker, best known as the author of Jurassic Park and the creator of ER.
Crichton graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, received his MD from Harvard Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researching public policy with Jacob Bronowski. He taught courses in anthropology at Cambridge University and writing at MIT. Crichton’s 2004 bestseller, State of Fear, acknowledged the world was growing warmer, but challenged extreme anthropogenic warming scenarios. He predicted future warming at 0.8 degrees C. (His conclusions have been widely misstated.)
Crichton’s interest in computer modeling went back forty years. His multiple-discriminant analysis of Egyptian crania, carried out on an IBM 7090 computer at Harvard, was published in the Papers of the Peabody Museum in 1966. His technical publications included a study of host factors in pituitary chromophobe adenoma, in Metabolism, and an essay on medical obfuscation in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Crichton’s first bestseller, The Andromeda Strain, was published while he was still a medical student. He later worked full time on film and writing. One of the most popular writers in the world, he has sold over 200 million books. His books have been translated into thirty-eight languages and thirteen have been made into films.
He had a lifelong interest in computers. His feature film Westworld was the first to employ computer-generated special effects back in 1973. Crichton’s pioneering use of computer programs for film production earned him a Technical Achievement Academy Award in 1995.
Crichton won an Emmy, a Peabody, and a Writer’s Guild of America Award for ER. In 2002, a newly discovered ankylosaurus was named for him: Crichtonsaurus bohlini. He is survived by his wife Sherri, his daughter Taylor and his son, John Michael.
CRICHTON, (John) Michael. American. Born in Chicago, Illinois, October 23, 1942. Died in Los Angeles, November 4, 2008. Educated at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, A.B. (summa cum laude) 1964 (Phi Beta Kappa). Henry Russell Shaw Travelling Fellow, 1964-65. Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at Cambridge University, England, 1965. Graduated Harvard Medical School, M.D. 1969; post-doctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, La Jolla, California 1969-1970. Visiting Writer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1988.
Contemporary Authors, 1971-; Who’s Who in America, 1974-; Current Biography, April 1976; Film Encyclopedia, 1979-;International Motion Picture Almanac, 1996; International Television & Video Almanac, 1996.
Recipient of Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award, 1968 (“A Case of Need”, written under pseudonym Jeffery Hudson); and 1980 (“The Great Train Robbery”). Association of American Medical Writers Award, 1970 (“Five Patients”); Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Technical Achievement Award, 1995 (“for pioneering computerized motion picture budgeting and scheduling”); George Foster Peabody Award (for “ER”); Writer’s Guild of America Award, Best Long Form Television Script of 1995 (for “ER”) Emmy, Best Dramatic Series, 1996 (for “ER”). Ankylosaurus named Crichtonsaurus bohlini, 2002.
Member of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Author’s Guild, Writers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America, P.E.N. America Center, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Phi Beta Kappa. Board of Directors, International Design Conference at Aspen, 1985-91; Board of Trustees, Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, La Jolla, 1986-91. Board of Overseers, Harvard University, 1990-96. Board of Directors, Drug Strategies, 1994-, Author’s Guild Council, 1995-, Board of Directors, Gorilla Foundation, 2002-, Board of Trustees, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2006-
Best-selling author Michael Crichton died unexpectedly in Los Angeles Tuesday, November 4, 2008 after a courageous and private battle against cancer.
While the world knew him as a great story teller who challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us — and entertained us all while doing so — his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, son John Michael, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes. He did this with a wry sense of humor that those who were privileged to know him personally will never forget.
Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand.
He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand, and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world.
“Michael’s talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth. Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.”
— Director and Film Producer Steven Spielberg
“Michael Crichton was an extraordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful. No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation.”
— ER Executive Producer John Wells
“A modern-day Renaissance man. He was a physician, writer, director and producer — few people have done so many things so well. As creator and producer of NBC’s ER, he helped change the face of televised drama.”
— NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker
“He was a nice man, and he died too young — too young.”
— Ray Bradbury
“Michael Crichton was the original creator of ER. He really based ER on his life as a young medical doctor. Michael was always really proud of the fact he had created something and passed it on. He was the starter of it all. He will be greatly missed.”
— Star of ER Anthony Edwards