John Michael Crichton, MD (October 23, 1942-November 4, 2008) was an American physician, screenwriter, director and best-selling author who contributed extensively to the science fiction, medical fiction and thriller genres. His popular books–which have sold over 200 million copies–have been adapted into feature films. Those include The Andromeda Strain (twice), The Terminal Man, The 13th Warrior (Eaters of the Dead), The Carey Treatment (A Case of Need), Disclosure, Rising Sun, The First Great Train Robbery, Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues, Congo, Sphere, Timeline, Jurassic Park and The Lost World. In 1994 he became the first author in history to achieve a #1 ranked novel, television series and film simultaneously (Disclosure, ER and Jurassic Park respectively). His other literary works apart from those listed above include Airframe, Travels, Prey State of Fear, Next, Pirate Latitudes (his last finished work) and Micro (partially completed, it was finished by Richard Preston).
John Michael Crichton was born on October 23, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, to a journalist named John Henderson Crichton and Zula Miller Crichton. His family moved to New York when he was a child and he grew up on Long Island, in Roslyn, New York. Crichton showed an early talent in writing when he wrote a travel column for The New York Times when he was 14. Crichton enrolled at Harvard College in 1960 intent on becoming a professional writer. However, due to issues with the literature department pertaining to his being graded unfairly by a lit professor, he opted for a bachelor’s degree in Biological Anthropology where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He was a guest lecturer in Anthropology at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
He began writing and publishing in earnest while enrolled in Harvard Medical School. Crichton was of great stature and chose that physical characteristic to embody the pseudonyms he chose for his early written works. Lange is a German surname which means long and Jeffrey Hudson was a historical figure in Queen Consort Henrietta Maria’s court that was notable for his diminutive size. He won his first Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1969 for his novel A Case of Need.
List of Works
*Odds On (under the pseudonym John Lange) 1966
*Scratch One (Lange) 1967
*Easy Go/The Last Tomb (Lange) 1968
*A Case of Need (Jeffrey Hudson–later released under his own name) 1968
*Zero Cool (Lange) 1969
*The Andromeda Strain 1969
*The Venom Business (Lange) 1969
*Drug of Choice/Overkill (Lange) 1970
*Dealing (Co-authored with Douglas Crichton under Michael Douglas) 1970
*Grave Descend (Lange) 1970
*Five Patients (Non-fiction) 1970
*Binary (Lange–released under Crichton in 1993) 1972
*The Terminal Man 1972
*The Great Train Robbery 1975
*Eaters of the Dead/The 13th Warrior 1976
*Jasper Johns (Non-fiction) 1977
*Electronic Life (Non-fiction) 1983
*Travels (Non-fiction) 1988
*Jurassic Park 1989
*Rising Sun 1992
*The Lost World 1995
*State of Fear 2004
*Pirate Latitudes 2009
*Micro (completed by Richard Preston) 2011
*Insight (Episode Writer)1970s
*Pursuit (Writer & Director) 1972
*Westworld (Writer & Director) 1973
*Extreme Close-up (Writer) 1973
*Coma (Writer & Director) 1978
*The Great Train Robbery (Writer & Director) 1979
*Beyond Westworld (Creator & Writer) 1980
*Looker (Writer & Director) 1981
*Runaway (Writer & Director) 1984
*Physical Evidence (Director) 1989
*Jurassic Park (Co-Writer) 1993
*Rising Sun (Co-writer) 1993
*ER (Creator, Writer & Executive Producer) 1994-2009
*Twister (Writer & Producer) 1996
As an adolescent Crichton felt isolated because of his height (6′ 9″). As an adult he was acutely aware of his intellect, which often left him feeling alienated from the people around him. During the 1970s and 1980s he consulted psychics and enlightenment gurus to make him feel more socially acceptable and to improve his karma.
Crichton was a workaholic. When drafting a novel, which would typically take him six or seven weeks, Crichton withdrew completely to follow what he called “a structured approach” of ritualistic self-denial.
He married five times. Four of the marriages ended in divorce: with Joan Radam (1965–1970), Kathleen St. Johns (1978–1980), Suzanna Childs (1981–1983), and actress Anne-Marie Martin (1987–2003), the mother of his daughter Taylor Anne (born 1989). At the time of his death, Crichton was married to Sherri Alexander (2005–2008), who was six months pregnant with their son; John Michael Todd Crichton was born on February 12, 2009.
According to Crichton’s brother Douglas, Crichton was diagnosed with lymphoma in early 2008. In accordance with the private way in which Crichton lived, his cancer was not made public until his death. He was undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the time of his death, and Crichton’s physicians and relatives had been expecting him to recover. He died at age 66 on November 4, 2008.