Elmore Leonard, the critically acclaimed crime novelist who released nearly fifty novels over the course of his lifetime, passed away this morning due to complications from a recent stroke. He was 87 years old. Leonard’s skill at creating quotable dialogue bantered back and forth by memorable characters made him an extremely influential force in the writing world, with many calling him one of the very best writers of the last 50 years (regardless of genre).
Leonard’s works were regularly adapted into movies and TV shows, with standouts being Hombre, 3:10 to Yuma, Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Jackie Brown on the film side and FX’s modern western “Justified” on the television side. He had an often-contentious relationship with Hollywood, best exemplified in his hilarious response to seeing the movie adaptation of his first novel, “The Big Bounce,” in theaters in 1969. According to the New York Times, Leonard called that movie “at least the second-worst movie ever made.” And once he saw the 2004 remake, he said, he knew what the worst one was. Studios didn’t always understand how to properly translate his material to the screen, and even well-regarded films like Get Shorty weren’t totally beloved by the author.
But his attitude changed when “Justified” came on the air in 2010. He was particularly pleased with how the series retained the spirit of his original short story “Fire in the Hole,” so much so that he told Deadline it had restored his faith in Hollywood. He even wrote a new novel called “Raylan” in 2012, continuing the adventures of Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens character with the television show in mind.
Rest in peace, Mr. Leonard. Thanks for all the great stories.
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