Leonard at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards Luncheon, 2011
|Born||Elmore John Leonard, Jr.
October 11, 1925
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
|Died||August 20, 2013
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, United States
|Alma mater||University of Detroit English, Philosophy (1950)|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1943–1946|
|Rank||Petty Officer 3rd Class|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Elmore John Leonard, Jr. (October 11, 1925 – August 20, 2013) was an American novelist and screenwriter. His earliest novels, published in the 1950s, were Westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures.
Among his best-known works are Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, and Rum Punch (adapted for the movie Jackie Brown). Leonard's writings include short stories that became the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the FX television series Justified.
Early life and education
Leonard was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Flora Amelia (née Rive) and Elmore John Leonard, Sr. Because his father worked as a site locator for General Motors, the family moved frequently for several years. In 1934, the family settled in Detroit.
He graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in 1943 and immediately joined the Navy, where he served with the Seabees for three years in the South Pacific (gaining the nickname "Dutch", after pitcher Dutch Leonard). Enrolling at the University of Detroit in 1946, he pursued writing more seriously, entering his work in short story contests and sending it off to magazines. He graduated in 1950 with a bachelor's degree in English and philosophy. A year before he graduated, he got a job as a copy writer with Campbell-Ewald Advertising Agency, a position he kept for several years, writing on the side.
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Leonard got his first break in the fiction market during the 1950s, regularly publishing pulp Western novels. Leonard had his first success in 1951 when Argosy published the short story "Trail of the Apaches".:29 During the 1950s and early 1960s, he continued writing Westerns, publishing more than 30 short stories. He wrote his first novel, The Bounty Hunters, in 1953 and followed this with four other novels. Five of his westerns were turned into major movies before 1972: The Tall T (Richard Boone), 3:10 to Yuma (Glenn Ford), Hombre (Paul Newman), Valdez Is Coming (Burt Lancaster), and Joe Kidd (Clint Eastwood).
Among his later movies are Jackie Brown (starring Pam Grier, directed by Quentin Tarantino) which is a "homage to the author’s trademark rhythm and pace"; Get Shorty (1995, John Travolta and Gene Hackman); and Out of Sight (1999, George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, directed by Steven Soderbergh).
He married Beverly Claire Cline in 1949, and they had five children together—three daughters and two sons—before divorcing in 1977. His second marriage in 1979, to Joan Leanne Lancaster (aka Joan Shepard), ended with her death in 1993. Later that same year, he married Christine Kent, and they divorced in 2012.
Leonard spent the last years of his life with his family in Oakland County, Michigan. He suffered a stroke on July 29, 2013. Initial reports stated that Leonard was recovering, but on August 20, 2013, Leonard died at his home in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills of stroke complications. He was 87 years old. Leonard is survived by his five children, 13 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Commended by critics for his gritty realism and strong dialogue, Leonard sometimes took liberties with grammar in the interest of speeding the story along. In his essay "Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing" he said: "My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." He also hinted: "I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip."
Elmore Leonard has been called "the Dickens of Detroit" because of his intimate portraits of people from that city; however, Leonard had said, "If I lived in Buffalo, I'd write about Buffalo.":90 His ear for dialogue has been praised by writers such as Saul Bellow, Martin Amis, and Stephen King. "Your prose makes Raymond Chandler look clumsy," Amis told Leonard at a Writers Guild event in Beverly Hills in 1998. Stephen King has called him "the great American writer." According to Charles Rzepka of Boston University, Leonard's mastery of free indirect discourse, a third-person narrative technique that gives the illusion of immediate access to a character's thoughts, "is unsuprassed in our time, and among the surest of all time, even if we include Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, and Hemingway in the mix." 
Leonard often cited Ernest Hemingway as perhaps his single most important influence, but at the same time criticized Hemingway for his lack of humor and for taking himself too seriously. It was because of Leonard's affection for Hemingway, as well as George V. Higgins, that he chose the University of South Carolina, where many of Hemingway's and Higgins' papers are archived, as the home for his personal papers. Leonard's archives reside at the University of South Carolina's Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.
Awards and honors
- 1992 Grand Master Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America
- 2008 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Award for outstanding achievement in American literature; received during the 13th Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference held at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, United States.
- 2010 Peabody Award, FX's Justified 
- 2012 National Book Award, Medal for Distinguished Contribution
|1970||The Moonshine War||Richard Quine|
|1972||Joe Kidd||John Sturges|
|1974||Mr. Majestyk||Richard Fleischer|
|1980||High Noon, Part II (TV)||Jerry Jameson|
|1985||Stick||Burt Reynolds||Joseph Stinson|
|1986||52 Pick-Up||John Frankenheimer||John Steppling|
|1987||The Rosary Murders||Fred Walton||William X. Kienzle & Fred Walton|
|Desperado (TV series)||Virgil W. Vogel|
|1989||Cat Chaser||Abel Ferrara||James Borelli|
|1953||"Three-Ten to Yuma"||1957 – 3:10 to Yuma
2007 – 3:10 to Yuma
|1955||The Captives||1957 – The Tall T|
|2004||The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard|
Also wrote a short story in the anthology Murderers' Row edited by Otto Penzler (2001) (back story for Tishomingo Blues)
- 10 Rules of Writing (2007)
- Foreword to Walter Mirisch's book I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History
Twenty-six of Leonard's novels and short stories have been adapted for the screen (19 as motion pictures and another seven as television programs).
Aside from the short stories already noted, a number of Leonard's novels have been adapted as films, including Out of Sight in 1998, Get Shorty in 1995, and Rum Punch (as the 1997 film Jackie Brown). 52 Pick-Up was first adapted very loosely into the 1984 film The Ambassador, starring Robert Mitchum and, two years later, under its original title starring Roy Scheider. He has also written several screenplays based on his novels, plus original ones such as Joe Kidd.
Other novels filmed include:
- Mr. Majestyk (with Charles Bronson)
- Valdez Is Coming (with Burt Lancaster)
- 52 Pick-Up (with Roy Scheider)
- Stick (with Burt Reynolds)
- The Moonshine War (with Alan Alda)
- Last Stand at Saber River (with Tom Selleck)
- Gold Coast (with David Caruso)
- Glitz (with Jimmy Smits)
- Cat Chaser (with Peter Weller)
- Out of Sight (George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez)
- Touch (with Christopher Walken)
- Pronto (with Peter Falk)
- Be Cool (with John Travolta)
- Killshot (Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke).
- Get Shorty (with John Travolta)
- Life of Crime (with Jennifer Aniston)
Leonard was referenced in the television show Leverage in episode 105 "The Bank Shot Job" when Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison and Beth Riesgraf as Parker introduced themselves to police officers as FBI agents Leonard and Elmore.
Leonard was referenced in the television show Homicide: Life on the Street in the first episode "Gone for Goode" when Richard Belzer as Detective John Munch tells a lying suspect that his false story had an "Elmore Leonard quality."
In 1992, Leonard played himself in a script he wrote and, with actor Paul Lazar dramatizing a scene from the novel Swag, appeared in a humorous television short about his writing process which aired on the "Byline Showtime" series on Showtime Networks.
- Ells, Kevin (January 31, 2011). "Elmore Leonard Jr.". Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (published August 21, 2013). Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- Jesse Thorn (July 3, 2007). "Podcast: TSOYA: Elmore Leonard". Maximum Fun (Podcast). Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- "Elmore Leonard > About the Author". Random House. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- Challen, Paul C. (2000). Get Dutch! : a biography of Elmore Leonard. Toronto: ECW Press. ISBN 1550224220. OCLC 44674355.
- Elmore Leonard - IMDb
- The Tall T (1957) - IMDb
- Trein van tien over drie (1957) - IMDb
- Hombre (1967) - IMDb
- Valdez Is Coming (1971) - IMDb
- Joe Kidd (1972) - IMDb
- "Novelist elevated crime thriller, mastered dialogue"; Julie Hinds; Detroit Free Press; August 21, 2013; page A1
- "Elmore Leonard, writer of sharp, colorful crime stories, dead at 87 - CNN.com". CNN.
- Leonard, Elmore (2009). Comfort to the enemy and other Carl Webster tales. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0297856685. OCLC 302068307. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
- Whitall, Susan (August 20, 2013). "Elmore Leonard, the 'Dickens of Detroit,' wrote with gritty flair". Entertainment. The Detroit News. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
- Stasio, Marilyn (August 20, 2013). "Elmore Leonard, Who Refined the Crime Thriller, Dies". Books. The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
- "Elmore Leonard - Biography". IMDb.com. 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
- Whitall, Susan (August 5, 2013). "Elmore Leonard in hospital recovering from stroke". Entertainment. The Detroit News. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- "Photos: Elmore Leonard dies". Arizona Daily Star. August 20, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- Leonard, Elmore (July 16, 2001). "Writers on Writing; Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle". Arts. The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
- Leonard, Elmore (January 23, 1998). Martin Amis interviews Elmore Leonard (PDF). Interview with Amis, Martin. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- King, Stephen (February 1, 2007). "The Tao of Steve". Entertainment Weekly (August 8, 2003). Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- Rzepka, Charles (2013). Being Cool: The Work of Elmore Leonard. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 21.
- Best-selling novelist Elmore Leonard, master of verbal tics and black humour Mark Lawson Guardian 20 August 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/aug/20/novelist-elmore-leonard-60-years-publishing
- "Elmore Leonard’s Papers (and Hawaiian Shirts) Go to University of South Carolina". October 16, 2014.
- "From ‘Get Shorty’ to ‘Glitz:’ USC acquires collections of crime novelist Elmore Leonard". October 15, 2014.
- "Elmore Leonard archive goes to South Carolina". October 15, 2014.
- "Edgar Award Winners and Nominees Database". Mystery Writers of America. search using surname Leonard. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- 2010 Peabody Recipients
- Flood, Alison (September 20, 2012). "Elmore Leonard to be honoured by National Book Foundation". Books. The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
- ""Homicide: Life on the Street" Gone for Goode (TV episode 1993) – Quotes". Internet Movie Database. IMDb.com. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
Frankly, I preferred your Jamaican story better. It had a kind of Elmore Leonard quality.
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- Official website
- Elmore Leonard at the Internet Movie Database
- Elmore Leonard at DMOZ
- The Economist: 31 August 2013 Obituary Elmore Leonard, crime-fiction writer, died on August 20, aged 87
- Elmore Leonard's career