News / Arts & Entertainment

American Author Elmore Leonard Dies

FILE - Author Elmore Leonard, 86, smiles during an interview at his home in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, Sept. 17, 2012.
FILE - Author Elmore Leonard, 86, smiles during an interview at his home in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, Sept. 17, 2012.
Reuters
American author Elmore Leonard, whose ear for gritty, realistic dialog helped bring dozens of hard-bitten crooks, cops and cowboys to life in nearly 50 novels, died on Tuesday several weeks after a stroke. He was 87.
 
“Elmore passed away this morning at 7:15 a.m. at home surrounded by his loving family,” according to an announcement on his website, elmoreleonard.com. It did not provide other details.
 
Leonard, who first wrote Westerns when he gave up his advertising agency job in the 1950s before moving on to crime and suspense books, suffered a stroke on July 29.
 
Known by the nickname Dutch, Leonard had his commercial breakthrough in 1985 with the publication of “Glitz.”
 
His following books, including “Get Shorty,” “Out of Sight,” “Killshot,” “Bandits” and “Freaky Deaky,” came out every year-and-a-half or so and were bestsellers.
 
Leonard's 47th book, “Blue Dreams,” was expected to be published this year.
 
“I don't have any reason to quit,” Leonard told Reuters in 2012, referring to his career. “I still enjoy writing.”
 
Hollywood had an affinity for Leonard's books, and more than 25 of his works were made into movies or television shows, beginning with Paul Newman in the 1967 film “Hombre.” The Western story “3:10 to Yuma” and the novel “The Big Bounce” were each adapted for film twice.
 
Movie producers and stars were so anxious to secure rights to his books that they were known to show up on Leonard's doorstep on the publication date.
 
But audiences and even the author himself were often unhappy with the cinematic adaptations.
 
Leonard, who spent much of his life in Detroit and its suburbs, said many filmmakers made the mistake of pushing the plots of what were character-driven stories, such as “Get Shorty,” which is about a likable loanshark named Chili Palmer.
 
“My characters are what the books are about. The plot just kind of comes along,” Leonard told London's Guardian in a 2004 interview. “Movies always want to concentrate on the action.”
 
His favorite movie adaptation of one of his novels was director-writer Quentin Tarantino's reworking of “Rum Punch” into the film “Jackie Brown.”
 
The cable television series “Justified,” the tale of a U.S. marshal in Kentucky that first aired in 2010, was based on Leonard's work and he served as executive producer of the show.
 
'Dickens of Detroit'
 
Born in New Orleans, Leonard moved at age 8 with his family to Detroit, where he became enthralled by the real-life exploits of gangsters Bonnie and Clyde and the fortunes of the city's professional baseball team, the Detroit Tigers.
 
Reading Erich Maria Remarque's World War I tale “All Quiet on the Western Front” as a boy made him want to become a writer.
 
After a stint in the Navy building bases in the South Pacific during World War II, Leonard enrolled at the University of Detroit, entering writing contests and selling stories to magazines that featured tales of the Old West.
 
He would rise before dawn, denying himself a cup of coffee until he had written a page, and then head off to write copy at a Detroit advertising agency.
 
Leonard switched to crime fiction when the popularity of Westerns faded. His tough characters spoke in a clipped, twisted syntax that led Newsweek magazine in a 1984 cover story to call him “the Dickens of Detroit” - a label he scorned.
 
Leonard explained his approach in a New York Times essay in which he listed his rules for writing, including, “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”
 
He summed up his technique by saying, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
 
Leonard, who overcame a drinking problem in 1977, wrote daily in long-hand on unlined pads in his living room, employing a researcher to enrich his material.
 
He won the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in November 2012, putting him in the company of such U.S. literary luminaries as Toni Morrison, John Updike, Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer.
 
Leonard was married three times and had five children with his first wife. His son Peter also went into advertising before becoming a writer.

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: steve hopkins from: nyc
August 20, 2013 4:19 PM
Good people keep checking out on me, making me want to sing this song. Today it was my man Elmore Leonard. I'm very glad he kept working until the bitter end. He gives us something to shoot for. https://soundcloud.com/biff-thuringer/peace-of-mind

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Nnekai
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.