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Last Updated: Monday, 25 July 2005, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Crime writer Bunker dies aged 71
Edward Bunker
Bunker spent 18 years in prison for robbery, forgery and other crimes
Crime novelist Edward Bunker, who taught himself to write in prison and appeared in hit movie Reservoir Dogs, has died in California aged 71.

Bunker spent a total of 18 years in US prisons for robbery, forgery and other crimes, inspiring him to write first novel No Beast So Fierce in 1973.

He had a role in its 1978 movie adaptation Straight Time, and played Mr Blue in 1992's Reservoir Dogs.

Bunker had diabetes and died in Burbank after surgery to improve circulation.

Prison escape

At 17, Bunker became the youngest inmate at California's San Quentin prison after he stabbed a prison guard at a youth detention centre.

He later escaped from a Los Angeles county jail, where he was serving a sentence for another crime.

His debut novel, No Beast So Fierce, told the story of a paroled thief who had trouble re-entering society.

Fellow author James Ellroy described is as "quite simply one of the great crime novels of the past 30 years - perhaps the best novel of the Los Angeles underworld ever written".

It was made into the movie Straight Time starring Dustin Hoffman, with Bunker co-writing the script and playing a criminal - one of nearly two dozen acting roles.

Themes of crime and prison life appeared in Bunker's other novels - Little Boy Blue, Dog Eat Dog and Animal Factory.

He co-wrote the screenplay for a 2000 film based on the latter and Runaway Train, a 1985 movie about two escaped convicts starring Jon Voight and Eric Roberts.

In Bunker's final role he played a convict in the remake of The Longest Yard, with his last published book a 2000 memoir entitled Education of a Felon.

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