Page last updated at 20:24 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Author Michael Crichton dies, 66

Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton won awards including an Emmy

Best-selling author Michael Crichton has died in Los Angeles aged 66 after a "courageous and private battle against cancer", his family has said.

He penned Jurassic Park, as well as books like Congo and Disclosure, all of which were adapted into films.

His books have sold more than 150 million copies. He also created the long-running US hospital TV drama ER.

"He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched," his family said in a statement.

A private funeral service is expected.

Crichton is survived by his wife, Sherri, and daughter, Taylor.

Michael's talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg

The family's statement paid tribute to a "devoted husband, loving father and generous friend".

It added: "Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand."

'Gentle soul'

"Michael's talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of Jurassic Park," said filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who directed the blockbuster film version of that novel.

"He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth.

Lost World, from the Jurassic Park trilogy
Odds On (1966)
The Andromeda Strain (1969)
The Great Train Robbery (1975)
Congo (1980)
Jurassic Park (1990)
Disclosure (1994)
The Lost World (1995) - pictured
Timeline (1999)
State of Fear (2004)
Next (2006)

"Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no-one in the wings that will ever take his place," he added.

A new Crichton novel had been scheduled to come out in the US next month.

Publisher HarperCollins said the book would now be postponed indefinitely.

A Harvard Medical School graduate, Chicago-born Crichton became the toast of Hollywood when his 1971 novel The Andromeda Strain was turned into a film.

Many of his novels and screenplays were adapted for cinema.

The most successful were Jurassic Park, which burst onto the screen in 1993, and its sequel The Lost World.

ER has won a host of Emmys since it began in 1994, and helped launch the career of George Clooney.

John Wells, executive producer of the medical drama, called the author "an extraordinary man - brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful.

"No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest.

"Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation," he added.

Crichton's 2004 bestseller State of Fear caused controversy when it cast doubt on the dangers of global warming.

Environmentalists said his novel was marring efforts to pass legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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