Michael Crichton Passes Away (1942-2008)

The best-selling author, screenwriter, and director died Tuesday.

Randall Michelson/WireImage.com

Best-selling author, screenwriter, and director Michael Crichton has passed away at the age of 66. The medical doctor-turned-filmmaker was best known for writing techno-thrillers (The Andromeda Strain, Westworld, Jurassic Park) and for creating the award-winning medical drama ER, now in its 15th and final season.

According to reports, Crichton died suddenly Tuesday in Los Angeles after a private battle with cancer. In a message posted to his official website, representatives of Crichton's family released a statement, excerpted below:

"While the world knew him as a great story teller 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. He did this with a wry sense of humor that those who were privileged to know him personally will never forget."

Perhaps best known for writing best-selling science fiction novels like The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Sphere, Rising Sun, Jurassic Park and its sequel, The Lost World (all of which were adapted into big-budget blockbusters), Crichton also wrote original screenplays and directed his own films. His 1973 science fiction-western Westworld (90 percent on the Tomatometer), directed from his own script, remains Crichton's best-reviewed film to date. His next two directorial efforts, 1978's Coma (76 percent, adapted and directed from a novel by Robin Cook) and 1979's The Great Train Robbery (78 percent, adapted and directed from his own novel), also rank among the best films written by Crichton or adapted from any of his works, ranking above films directed by the likes of Oscar-winner Robert Wise (The Andromeda Strain), Barry Levinson (Sphere), Frank Marshall (Congo), Philip Kaufman (Rising Sun), Jan de Bont (Twister), and John McTiernan (The 13th Warrior, based on his novel Eaters of the Dead).

At the time of his death, two new projects based on Crichton's works were rumored to be in development: Jurassic Park IV and Westworld, a remake to be scripted by Billy Ray (Volcano, Flightplan).

Head over to Michael Crichton's Tomatometer page for a detailed filmography and more.

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