Celebrity Photo

Donald E. Westlake

Highest Rated: 91% The Grifters (1990)

Lowest Rated: 10% What's the Worst That Could Happen? (2001)

Birthday: Jul 12, 1933

Birthplace: New York, New York, USA

With an impressive catalogue of work that included hundreds of novels and non-fiction books, Donald Edwin Westlake was quite the prolific mystery novelist. The award-winning author, whose best known works featured the ruthless criminal Parker and the more likeable, albeit terminally unlucky, thief John Dortmunder, became synonymous with crime fiction. Westlake was born on July 12, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, although he was raised upstate in Albany. Like many aspiring writers, Westlake nearly always had a pen in his hand as a young man. After a barrage of short story submissions and an equal number of rejections, the young author made his first short story sale in 1954. While he attended Champlain College in Plattsburg NY, he continued to work on his short stories, often modeled on the popular noir of the 1930s and 1940s. After finding a job at a literary agency, Westlake moved to New York City in 1959. On the side, he continued to write under the pseudonym Alan Marshall and published several exploitation novels under that name, such as All My Lovers (1959) and All the Girls Were Willing (1960). His first published novel under his own name was the 1960 crime thriller The Mercenaries. In 1962 he began to write under a new name, Richard Stark. These works were set in a ruthless criminal world, where only an equally ruthless protagonist could survive. Thus Westlake's first novel as Richard Stark, The Hunter (1962) featured a coldly efficient career criminal known only as Parker. The novel was a success, later adapted into the 1967 film "Point Blank" starring Lee Marvin. Although the film did not smash any box office records, its noirish themes led to it becoming a cult classic. This was not Westlake's first brush with film, however: Jean-Luc Godard's crime spoof "Made In USA" (1966) had been adapted, without permission, from the Richard Stark novel The Jugger; Westlake sued the director and won, with the result that the film was largely unavailable to view in North America until after the author's death in 2008.



10% 35% What's the Worst That Could Happen? Writer $32.3M 2001
55% 69% Payback Writer $81.5M 1999
14% 36% Two Much Writer $1.1M 1996
91% 70% The Grifters Screenwriter $10.1M 1990
No Score Yet No Score Yet Fatal Confession: A Father Dowling Mystery Writer - 1987
No Score Yet 72% The Outfit Writer - 1974
No Score Yet 31% Cops and Robbers Screenwriter - 1973


No Score Yet No Score Yet Welcome to Paradox Writer 1998