"Jurassic Park" author Michael Crichton dies at 66

Wed Nov 5, 2008 5:31pm EST
 
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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Best-selling U.S. author Michael Crichton, who wrote such novels as "The Andromeda Strain" and "Jurassic Park" and created the popular TV drama "ER," has died unexpectedly of cancer at age 66, his family said on Wednesday.

Crichton, a medical doctor turned novelist and filmmaker whose books have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles after what his family described as a "courageous and private battle against cancer."

"Michael's talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of 'Jurassic Park,'" filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who directed the blockbuster movie version of that novel and its sequel, "The Lost World," said in a statement. "He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth."

Spielberg added: "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."

The family statement, which was released through a publicist, called Crichton's death "unexpected" but released few other details about his passing and requested privacy.

Born in Chicago on October 23, 1942, Crichton wrote his first novels while attending Harvard Medical School. He was awarded his medical degree in 1969, the same year his first major best seller, "The Andromeda Strain," was published.

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<p>Author Michael Crichton is shown in this May 2000 file photo. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen</p>