John Michael Crichton (/ˈkraɪtən/; October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008) was an American writer and filmmaker. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and over a dozen have been adapted into films. His literary works heavily feature technology and are usually within the science fiction, techno-thriller, and medical fiction genres.
Crichton was also involved in the film and television industry. In 1973, he wrote and directed Westworld, the first film to use 2D computer-generated imagery. He also directed Coma (1978), The First Great Train Robbery (1978), Looker (1981), and Runaway (1984). He was the creator of the famed television series ER (1994–2009), and several of his novels were adapted into films, most notably the Jurassic Park franchise.
John Michael Crichton was born on October 23, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, to John Henderson Crichton, a journalist, and Zula Miller Crichton, a homemaker. He was raised on Long Island, in Roslyn, New York, and he showed a keen interest in writing from a young age; at 16, he had an article about a trip he took to Sunset Crater published in The New York Times.
Crichton later recalled, “Roslyn was another world. Looking back, it’s remarkable what wasn’t going on. There was no terror. No fear of children being abused. No fear of random murder. No drug use we knew about. I walked to school. I rode my bike for miles and miles, to the movie on Main Street and piano lessons and the like. Kids had freedom. It wasn’t such a dangerous world… We studied our butts off, and we got a tremendously good education there.”
Crichton had always planned on becoming a writer and began his studies at Harvard College in 1960. During his undergraduate study in literature, he conducted an experiment to expose a professor who he believed was giving him abnormally low marks and criticizing his literary style.: 4 Informing another professor of his suspicions, Crichton submitted an essay by George Orwell under his own name. The paper was returned by his unwitting professor with a mark of “B−”. He later said, “Now Orwell was a wonderful writer, and if a B-minus was all he could get, I thought I’d better drop English as my major.” His differences with the English department led Crichton to switch his undergraduate concentration. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology summa cum laude in 1964 and was initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He received a Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellowship from 1964 to 1965 and was a visiting lecturer in anthropology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1965. Crichton later enrolled at Harvard Medical School.[page needed] Crichton later said “about two weeks into medical school I realized I hated it. This isn’t unusual since everyone hates medical school – even happy, practicing physicians.”
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.