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.