Still churning out genius at the age of 87, Elmore Leonard was showing no dearth of imagination decades into his writing career. Author of the novels that inspired films like Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, Barry Sonnenfeld's Get Shorty, and the FX series Justified, Leonard has given as much to Hollywood's crime genre as just about any other creative force. Sadly, Leonard succumbed to complications following a stroke suffered three weeks back, passing away on Tuesday morning, as reported by his Facebook page. Leonard was reported to be surrounded by family, in the comfort of his home, at the time of his death.
Leonard pioneered his writing career in the 1950s, kicking off a long line of novels with The Bounty Hunters. Only a few years later, his books began to earn the attention of producers, taking form in film and television adaptations. Elmore's first title to earn the treatment was Hombre, written in '61 and taking big screen form in '67. In addition to penning prose that would translate to films by great directors and screenwriters, Elmore worked on a handful of his own screenplays, such as Richard Quine's The Moonshine War and Burt Reynolds' Stick. Elmore is also famously responsible for the short story that inspired two film adaptations in '57 and 2007.
With Justified going strong on the FX network with a cult fan base and his novel The Switch being brought to film in the developing feature Life of Crime (starring Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, and Isla Fisher), Leonard's influence has shown no signs of waning. The great writer, with a flare for crime, drama, and comedy alike, will surely be missed, but will no doubt maintain a presence in film for years to come.
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The director, writer and producer passed away at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California on Wednesday night (15Dec10) after suffering complications from pneumonia.
He had been hospitalised for two weeks and was already battling knee problems, according to his longtime publicist, Gene Schwam. The rep added Edwards had been "pretty much confined to a wheelchair for the last year-and-a-half or two".
His wife and other family members were by his bedside when he died.
Born William Blake Crump in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Edwards began his career as an actor and screenwriter, penning seven scripts for late actor/filmmaker Richard Quine.
He landed his big break on Orson Welles' production of War of the Worlds and went on to create screenplays for detective series Richard Diamond, Private Detective and Peter Gunn.
He later established himself as a director, working with Audrey Hepburn to bring Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's to the big screen in 1961, before taking on Days of Wine and Roses in 1962.
But he will perhaps be best remembered as the comic genius behind the Pink Panther series, teaming up with Peter Sellers for six of the hit movies in the franchise.
His other comedy credits include 10, Victor/Victoria and black comedy S.O.B., all starring Andrews, his wife of 41 years.
In 2004, he was presented with an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of his extensive body of film work.
Edwards is survived by Andrews, his two children Jennifer and Geoffrey from his first marriage to Patricia Walker, and two adopted kids from Vietnam, Amelia Leigh and Joanna Lynne. He was also stepfather to The Sound of Music icon's daughter Emma, from her previous union to Tony Walton.