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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs