U.S. crime writer Elmore Leonard dead at 87

Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:07pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - American author Elmore Leonard, whose ear for gritty, realistic dialogue helped bring dozens of hard-bitten crooks, cops and cowboys to life in nearly 50 novels, died on Tuesday several weeks after a stroke. He was 87.

"Elmore passed away this morning at 7:15 a.m. at home surrounded by his loving family," according to an announcement on his website, elmoreleonard.com. It did not provide other details.

Leonard, who first wrote Westerns when he gave up his advertising agency job in the 1950s before moving on to crime and suspense books, suffered a stroke on July 29.

Known by the nickname Dutch, Leonard had his commercial breakthrough in 1985 with the publication of "Glitz."

His following books, including "Get Shorty," "Out of Sight," "Killshot," "Bandits" and "Freaky Deaky," came out every year-and-a-half or so and were best-sellers.

Leonard's 47th book, "Blue Dreams," was expected to be published this year.

"I don't have any reason to quit," Leonard told Reuters in 2012, referring to his career. "I still enjoy writing."

Hollywood had an affinity for Leonard's books, and more than 25 of his works were made into movies or television shows, beginning with Paul Newman in the 1967 film "Hombre." The Western story "3:10 to Yuma" and the novel "The Big Bounce" were each adapted for film twice.

Movie producers and stars were so anxious to secure rights to his books that they were known to show up on Leonard's doorstep on the publication date.   Continued...

Executive producer Graham Yost and actor Timothy Olyphant (C) smile with writer Elmore Leonard (L) after receiving a Peabody award for their work in "Justified" during the 70th annual Peabody Awards ceremony in New York May 23, 2011. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson