Chances are, he entertained you with a bullet-riddled caper and you didn’t even know it.
Elmore Leonard, celebrated crime novelist and screenwriter, died on August 20, 2013. He was 87 years old, having written 47 published novels in a career that spanned 60 years.
While his literary fans are legion, most people are likely more familiar with his characters on the silver screen and television, many of which were adapted from his novels. A few of his most famous film offerings include “Jackie Brown” (1997), “Get Shorty”<em> </em>(1995), “Out of Sight” (1998) and the FX television series “Justified” (2010 – present).
Two of his most famous tales, “3:10 to Yuma” and “The Big Bounce,” were so well-loved by Hollywood they were each given two film treatments. The former was remade in 2007 and starred Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, and the latter in 2004 with Owen Wilson taking Ryan O’Neal’s original role.
Hollywood loved Leonard’s characters, but what execs (and fans) truly adored was the way he brought them to life with crackling dialogue that was often lifted right from the page and put onscreen – a rare feat for book-to-film adaptations. Leonard wasted little time with exposition and preferred to let his characters tell their own stories, which gave them a presence that could be felt by his audience. On this subject he famously said, “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”
As for the stars who lined up to act out Leonard’s legendary heroes and villains, the list is long and star-studded: George Clooney, John Travolta, Diane Lane, Robert De Niro, J. Lo and Mickey Rourke are just a few to have jumped at the author’s roles.
Leonard was born in New Orleans in 1925, but made his home in Bloomfield Hills, near Detroit, and a great number of his U.S.-based novels feature recognizable Americana and real-life small towns along the I-75 corridor that runs from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Miami. Several of his novels, though, take readers far away from the Midwest to places like the Dominican Republic (“Cat Chaser”), Rwanda (“Pagan Babies”) and 19th century Cuba (“Cuba Libre”).
Happily, both Leonard and his cast of immortal misfits will live on in the cultural zeitgeist for years to come, and we look forward to seeing his characters brought to life once again in September 2013 in his adaptation “Life of Crime,” starring Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Mos Def and John Hawkes.
<a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> invites you to list your favorite Leonard book, film or character.