Michael Crichton — John Michael Crichton, was an American author, film producer, film director, medical doctor, and television producer best known for his science fiction and techno-thriller novels, films, and television programs. His books have sold over 150 million copies worldwide. His works were usually based on the action genre and heavily feature technology. Many of his future history novels have medical or scientific underpinnings, reflecting his medical training and science background. He was the author of The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Disclosure, Rising Sun, Timeline, State of Fear, Prey, and Next. He was also the creator of ER, but most famous for being the author of Jurassic Park, and its sequel The Lost World, both adapted into high grossing films and leading to the very successful franchise. The final book he published before his death was Next, and he also had another project set for some time in 2009.
Crichton was born in Chicago, Illinois, to John Henderson Crichton and Zula Miller Crichton, and raised on Long Island, in Roslyn, New York. He has two sisters, Kimberly and Catherine, and a younger brother, Douglas.
He attended Harvard College as an undergraduate, graduating summa cum laude with an anthropology degree in 1964. Crichton was also initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He went on to become the Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellow from 1964 to 1965 and Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1965. He graduated from Harvard Medical School, obtaining an M.D. in 1969, and did post-doctoral fellowship study at the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, from 1969 to 1970. In 1988, he was Visiting Writer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
While in medical school, he wrote novels under the pen names John Lange and Jeffery Hudson. A Case of Need, written under the latter pseudonym, won the 1969 Edgar Award for Best Novel. He also co-authored Dealing with his younger brother Douglas under the shared pen name Michael Douglas. The back cover of that book contains a picture of Michael and Douglas at a very young age taken by their mother.
His two pen names were created as a play on his above-average height. According to his own words, he was about 2.06 meters (6 feet 9 inches) tall in 1997. Lange is a surname in Germany, meaning “tall one” and Sir Jeffrey Hudson was a famous 17th century dwarf in the court of Queen Consort Henrietta Maria of England.
Crichton admitted to having once, during his undergraduate study, plagiarized a work by George Orwell and submitted it as his own. According to Crichton, the paper was received by his professor with a mark of “B−”. Crichton claimed that the plagiarism was not intended to defraud the school, but rather as an experiment. Crichton believed that the professor in question had been intentionally giving him abnormally low marks, and so as an experiment Crichton informed another professor of his idea and submitted Orwell’s paper as his own work. His issues with the English Department led Crichton to switch concentrations from English to anthropology.
Crichton was married five times and divorced four times. He was married to Suzanna Childs, Joan Radam (1965 – 1970), Kathy St. Johns (1978 – 1980) and Anne-Marie Martin (1987 – 2003), the mother of his only child, daughter Taylor Anne. At the time of his death, Crichton was married to Sherri Alexander.
He wrote the screenplay for the movies Extreme Close Up (1973) and Twister (1996) (the latter co-written with Anne-Marie Martin, his wife at the time). Jurassic Park III is a sequel to The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park, both based on Crichton’s novels, but Jurassic Park III isn’t based on one of his novels, though he helped write the screenplay.
Crichton was also the creator and executive producer of the television drama ER. ER was originally slated to be a movie, directed by Steven Spielberg. However, during the early stages of pre-production, Spielberg asked Michael Crichton what his current project was. Crichton said he was working on a novel about dinosaurs and DNA. Spielberg subsequently dropped what he was doing to film this project. Afterwards, he returned to ER and helped develop the show, serving as a producer on season one and offering advice (he insisted on Julianna Margulies becoming a regular, for example). It was also through Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment that John Wells was contacted to be the show’s executive producer.