Michael Crichton: 1942 – 2008

ON

The year 2008 has claimed another one of the greats.

Michael Crichton, the million-selling author of such historic and prehistoric science thrillers as “Jurassic Park,” “Timeline” and “The Andromeda Strain,” has died of cancer, his family said.

He died Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 66 after a long battle with the illness.

Chrichton was a brand-name author, known for his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as the rampant microbe of “The Andromeda Strain” or dinosaurs running amok in “Jurassic Park,” one of his many books that became major Hollywood movies.

“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,” his family said in a statement.

The 6-foot-9-inch author was also a screenwriter and filmmaker, earning producing and writing credits for the film versions of many of his titles. He also created the TV hospital series “ER” in 1994.

A new novel by Crichton had been tentatively scheduled to come next month, but publisher HarperCollins said the book was postponed indefinitely because of his illness.

“While the world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us — and entertained us all while doing so — his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, 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,” his family said.

Steven Spielberg, who worked numerous times with Crichton, released the following statement:

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. In the early days, Michael had just sold “The Andromeda Strain” to Robert Wise at Universal and I had recently signed on as a contract TV director there. My first assignment was to show Michael Crichton around the Universal lot. We became friends and professionally “Jurassic Park,” “ER,” and “Twister” followed. 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.