One of the most popular and best-selling spy novelists of all time, author Robert Ludlum actually started his career as an actor with minor television roles and Broadway appearances before segueing into novel writing. Ludlum's first novel, with <i>The Scarlatti Inheritance</i> (1971), was an immediate bestseller and was followed up with <i>The Osterman Weekend</i> (1972), which was adapted by Sam Peckinpah into a critically maligned film in 1983. Throughout the 1970s, the prolific author churned out a novel a year, each revolving around some form of conspiracy that befalls a heroic protagonist battling against powerful and decidedly evil adversaries. In 1980, he wrote his most definitive novel, <i>The Bourne Identity</i>, which sparked a pair of best-selling sequels, a 1988 miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain, and a critically acclaimed blockbuster movie series starring Matt Damon, who helped turned "The Bourne Identity" (2002), "The Bourne Supremacy" (2005) and "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007) into international film hits. Though he died in 2001 and was unable to see the huge success of the film series, Ludlum managed to churn out over 25 novels and sell over 220 million copies worldwide, making him one of the most successful authors of any genre in the latter half of the 20th century.