Leonard at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards Luncheon, 2011
Elmore John Leonard Jr.|
October 11, 1925
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
August 20, 2013 (aged 87)|
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Detroit English, Philosophy (1950)|
|Service/||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, short story writer, and screenwriter. His earliest novels, published in the 1950s, were Westerns, but he 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, Swag, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, and Rum Punch (adapted as 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, after being rejected for the Marines for weak eyesight, 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 (Randolph Scott), 3:10 to Yuma (Glenn Ford), Hombre (Paul Newman), Valdez Is Coming (Burt Lancaster), and Joe Kidd (Clint Eastwood).
Among film adaptations of his work 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 (1998, George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, directed by Steven Soderbergh).
He married Beverly Clare 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, though he said, "If I lived in Buffalo, I'd write about Buffalo.": 90 His favorite epithet was one given by Britain's New Musical Express: "the poet laureate of wild assholes with revolvers". 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 unsurpassed 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. Still, it was Leonard's affection for Hemingway, as well as George V. Higgins, that led him to will his personal papers to the University of South Carolina, where many of Hemingway's and Higgins' papers are archived. Leonard's papers reside at the university's Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.
Awards and honors
- 1984 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel of 1983 for La Brava.
- 1992 Grand Master Award for Lifetime Achievement 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. The F. Scott Fitzgerald American Literature award which is given annually in Rockville Maryland, the city where Fitzgerald, his wife, and his daughter are buried as part of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival.
- 2010 Peabody Award, FX's Justified 
- 2012 National Book Award, Medal for Distinguished Contribution
|1998||The Tonto Woman and Other Western Stories||ISBN 0-385-32387-5|
|2002||When the Women Come Out to Dance
Later reprint retitled Fire in the Hole
|2004||The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard||ISBN 0-060-72425-0|
|2006||Moment of Vengeance and Other Stories||ISBN 0-060-72428-5|
|2006||Blood Money and Other Stories||ISBN 0-06-125487-8|
|2006||Three Ten To Yuma and Other Stories||ISBN 0-06-133677-7|
|2007||Trail of the Apache and Other Stories||ISBN 0-06-112165-7|
|2009||Comfort to the Enemy and Other Carl Webster Stories||ISBN 0-297-85668-5|
|2014||Charlie Martz and Other Stories: The Unpublished Stories of Elmore Leonard||ISBN 0-297-60979-3|
|Year||Story||First appearance||Film adaptation|
|1953-03||"Three-Ten to Yuma"||Dime Western Magazine||1957 – 3:10 to Yuma |
2007 – 3:10 to Yuma
|1955-02||"The Captives"||Argosy||1957 – The Tall T|
|1982||"The Tonto Woman"||Roundup||2007 – Academy Awards nominated Live Action Short|
|1996||"Karen Makes Out"||Murder For Love - Delacorte Press 1996||First episode in Karen Sisco TV series|
|2001||"Fire in the Hole"||ebook (ISBN 0-062-12034-4)||2010 – TV series Justified|
|2001||"Chickasaw Charlie Hoke"||Murderers' Row: Original Baseball Mysteries |
|2005||"Louly and Pretty Boy"||Dangerous Women - Mysterious Press 1996|
|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 Movie)||Virgil W. Vogel|
|1989||Cat Chaser||Abel Ferrara||James Borelli|
- 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 Get Shorty (1990 novel, 1995 film), Out of Sight (1996 novel, 1998 film), and Rum Punch (1992 novel, 1997 film Jackie Brown). 52 Pick-Up (1986 film) was first adapted very loosely into the 1984 film The Ambassador (1984), starring Robert Mitchum and, two years later, under its original title starring Roy Scheider. Leonard has also written several screenplays based on his novels, plus original screenplays such as Joe Kidd (1972).
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)
- Freaky Deaky (with Christian Slater)
- Life of Crime (with Jennifer Aniston) (based on The Switch)
- 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.
- The 2010-15 FX series Justified was based around the popular Leonard character U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, from the novels Pronto, Riding the Rap, the eponymous Raylan, and the short story "Fire in the Hole".
- The short-lived 1998 TV series Maximum Bob was based on Leonard's 1991 novel of the same name. It aired on ABC for seven episodes and starred Beau Bridges.
- The TV series Karen Sisco (2003–04) starring Carla Gugino was based on the U.S. Marshall character from the film Out of Sight (1998) played by Jennifer Lopez.
- The 2017 Epix series Get Shorty is based on the novel of the same.
- "Elmore Leonard Interview - Pt. 1 - From the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference". YouTube. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- "Quentin Tarantino @ David Letterman, 1997". YouTube. 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- 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. Archived from the original on August 20, 2013. 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. Archived from the original on August 24, 2013. 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.
- The Telegraph, 20 August 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2017
- Leonard, Elmore (January 23, 1998). "Martin Amis interviews Elmore Leonard" (PDF) (Interview). Interviewed by 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 (published August 8, 2003). Retrieved 2013-08-21.
- Rzepka, Charles (2013). Being Cool: The Work of Elmore Leonard. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 21.
- Mark Lawson, "Best-selling novelist Elmore Leonard, master of verbal tics and black humour", The Guardian, August 20, 2013.
- "Elmore Leonard's Papers (and Hawaiian Shirts) Go to University of South Carolina". October 16, 2014.
- "From 'Get Shorty' to 'Glitz:'10000000002 USC acquires collections of crime novelist Elmore Leonard". October 15, 2014. Archived from the original on December 4, 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.
- "Past Honorees". cms.montgomerycollege.edu. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
- 2010 Peabody Recipients
- Flood, Alison (September 20, 2012). "Elmore Leonard to be honoured by National Book Foundation". Books. The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
- Penzler, Otto (Editor) (2001). Murderers' Row Original Baseball Mysteries (First ed.). CA: New Millennium Entertainment. ISBN 978-1893224254.
- Kirk (August 17, 2009). "Tarantino's Lost Projects: '40 Lashes Less One'". We Are Movie Geeks.
- Petski, Denise (May 16, 2017). "'Get Shorty' Gets Premiere Date On Epix; Unveils First-Look Photos". Retrieved May 16, 2017.
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