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 film 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.
Leonard at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards Luncheon, 2011
|Born||Elmore John Leonard Jr.|
October 11, 1925
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Died||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|
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.
Leonard received his first break in the fiction market during the 1950s, regularly publishing pulp Western novels. He 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. His western novels had already begun to portray his fondness for culturally diverse outsiders and underdogs. He often developed his characters through dialogue, each defined by means of his speech. For many of his stories he favored Arizona and New Mexico settings.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).
In 1969 his first crime story titled “The Big Bounce” was published by Gold Medal Books. Leonard was different from the well-known names writing in this genre, such as Raymond Chandler or any of the other famous noir writers – no melodrama and pessimism, but more interested in his characters and in realistic dialogue. The stories were often located in Detroit, but apart from his favorite setting he liked to play his books also in South Florida. “La Brava” a story from there published 1983 was also the reason for a New York Times review, in which Leonard moved from a mystery suspense writer into a novelist. His next book, a Atlantic City gambling story published in 1985 and titled “Glitz,” was his breakout in the crime genre. It spent 16 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller list. Other crime novels that followed were all best sellers, as well.  In his review of “Glitz”, Stephen King placed him in the same company as John MacDonald, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, but Leonard felt more influenced by Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck.  Leonard believed that his books during the 1980s were becoming more humorous and that and he was developing a style that was more free and easy. His own favorites were the Dixie Mafia story “Tishomingo Blues” from 2002 and “Freaky Deaky” from 1988 about ex-hippie criminals. There are some of his characters parts of different novels like Hollywood mobster Chili Palmer, bank robber Jack Foley or the both U. S. Marshals Carl Webster and Raylan Givens.  His crime books were published amongst others by Fawcett Publications, Bantam Books and Dell Publishing. In the 80s his publisher was Arbor House, later also William Morrow & Company as an imprint of HarperCollins. There are different reprints from his novels, so in the 2000s from Weidenfeld & Nicolson. At the time of his death his novels had sold tens of millions of copies.
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); Out of Sight (1998, George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, directed by Steven Soderbergh) and the television series Justified. Nearly thirty movies were made from Leonard's novels, but for some critics his special style worked only in print.
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.
|1953||The Bounty Hunters||ISBN 0-380-82225-3|
|1954||The Law at Randado||1990 – Border Shootout||ISBN 0-062-28950-0|
|1956||Escape from Five Shadows||ISBN 0-060-01348-6|
|1959||Last Stand at Saber River||1997 – Last Stand at Saber River||ISBN 0-062-28948-9|
|1961||Hombre||1967 – Hombre||ISBN 0-062-20611-7|
|1969||The Big Bounce||1969 – The Big Bounce
2004 – The Big Bounce
|The Moonshine War||1970 – The Moonshine War||ISBN 0-062-20898-5|
|1970||Valdez Is Coming||1971 – Valdez Is Coming||ISBN 0-062-22785-8|
|1972||Forty Lashes Less One||ISBN 0-062-28949-7|
|1974||Mr. Majestyk||1974 – Mr. Majestyk||ISBN 0-062-18840-2|
|Fifty-Two Pickup||1984 – The Ambassador
1986 – 52 Pick-Up
|1977||Unknown Man No. 89||ISBN 0-062-18928-X|
|The Hunted||ISBN 0-062-18841-0|
|1978||The Switch||2013 – Life of Crime||ISBN 0-062-20613-3|
|1980||City Primeval||ISBN 0-062-19135-7|
|Gold Coast||1997 – TV movie||ISBN 0-062-20609-5|
|1981||Split Images||1992 – TV movie||ISBN 0-688-16971-6|
|1982||Cat Chaser||1989 – Cat Chaser||ISBN 0-060-51222-9|
|1983||Stick||1985 – Stick||ISBN 0-062-18435-0|
Edgar Award, Best Novel (1984)
|1985||Glitz||1988 – TV movie||ISBN 0-062-12158-8|
|Touch||1997 – Touch||ISBN 0-062-26598-9|
|1988||Freaky Deaky||2012 – Freaky Deaky||ISBN 0-062-12035-2|
|1989||Killshot||2009 – Killshot||ISBN 0-688-16638-5|
|1990||Get Shorty||1995 – Get Shorty
2017 - Get Shorty
|1991||Maximum Bob||1998 – TV series Maximum Bob||ISBN 0-062-00940-0|
|1992||Rum Punch||1997 – Jackie Brown||ISBN 0-062-11982-6|
|1993||Pronto||1997 – TV movie
2010 – TV series Justified
|1995||Riding the Rap||2010 – TV series Justified||ISBN 0-062-02029-3|
|1996||Out of Sight||1998 – Out of Sight
2003 – TV series Karen Sisco
|1998||Cuba Libre||ISBN 0-062-18429-6|
|1999||Be Cool||2005 – Be Cool||ISBN 0-060-77706-0|
|2000||Pagan Babies||ISBN 0-062-26601-2|
|2002||Tishomingo Blues||ISBN 0-062-00939-7|
|2004||Mr. Paradise||ISBN 0-060-59807-7|
|A Coyote's in the House||ISBN 0-141-31688-8|
|2005||The Hot Kid||ISBN 0-060-72423-4|
|2006||Comfort to the Enemy
Published serially in New York Times
|2007||Up in Honey's Room||ISBN 0-060-72426-9|
|2009||Road Dogs||ISBN 0-061-98570-8|
|2012||Raylan||2010 – TV series Justified||ISBN 0-062-11947-8|
|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|
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:
52 Pick-Up is a 1986 neo-noir black comedy crime film directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Roy Scheider, Ann-Margret, and Vanity. It is based on Elmore Leonard's novel of the same name.City Primeval
City Primeval is a crime novel written by Elmore Leonard.Djibouti (novel)
Djibouti is a 2010 crime fiction work by American writer Elmore Leonard.Get Shorty
Get Shorty is a 1990 novel by American novelist Elmore Leonard. In 1995, the novel was adapted into a film of the same title, and in 2017 it was adapted into a television series of the same title.Hombre (novel)
Hombre is a novel by American author Elmore Leonard, published in 1961. It was adapted into a film in 1967. It tells the story of an Apache man, John Russell, who leads the passengers of an attacked stagecoach through the desert to safety.
The novel was critically acclaimed upon release, and continues to be regarded to the modern day as a classic of the western genre. It was released as a film six years after its publication.Joe Kidd
Joe Kidd is a 1972 American Technicolor western film in Panavision starring Clint Eastwood and Robert Duvall, written by Elmore Leonard and directed by John Sturges.
The film is about an ex-bounty hunter hired by a wealthy landowner named Frank Harlan to track down Mexican revolutionary leader Luis Chama, who is fighting for land reform. It forms part of the Revisionist Western genre.Killshot (novel)
Killshot, the 1989 novel by author Elmore Leonard, tells the story of a married couple who find themselves in Cape Girardeau, Missouri while on the run from a pair of hitmen.Mr. Majestyk
Mr. Majestyk is a 1974 American action film directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Charles Bronson. The film is from an original screenplay written by author Elmore Leonard. He also wrote the novelization based on the movie, a reversal of the usual process of adaptation. Leonard took the title character's last name from a character in his 1969 crime novel The Big Bounce.Out of Sight (novel)
Out of Sight is a 1996 crime fiction novel by Elmore Leonard.Riding the Rap
Riding the Rap is a 1995 crime fiction novel by Elmore Leonard. It is the sequel to Leonard's Pronto, released in 1993. Like Pronto, Riding the Rap centers around 67-year-old Harry Arno, World War II veteran and bookie, who has been skimming from the mob for decades. The book also features a reappearance of Joyce Patton, Harry's ex-girlfriend and a former stripper, and her new boyfriend Raylan Givens, an always-gets-his-man old western type law enforcer who later comes to Harry's aid when he discovers the plot set up by Chip Ganz, Bobby Deo, and Louis Lewis. Chip Ganz, who is $16,500 in debt, hatches a plan to steal Harry's millions of skimmed money from a Swiss bank account by taking him hostage and forcing the money out of him. It's up to Raylan Givens to find Harry Arno before it's too late.Rum Punch
For the alcoholic mixed drink, see Punch (drink)Rum Punch is a 1992 novel written by Elmore Leonard. The novel was adapted into the film Jackie Brown (1997) by director Quentin Tarantino, although the movie changed the setting to Los Angeles.The characters Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara first appeared in Leonard's novel, The Switch, which itself has also been adapted as a film, Life of Crime, first shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, with Robbie played by Mos Def and Gara portrayed by John Hawkes.Split Images
Split Images is a crime novel written by Elmore Leonard published in 1981.Stick (film)
Stick is a 1985 American crime film based on Elmore Leonard's novel, and starring and directed by Burt Reynolds.Swag (novel)
Swag is a crime novel by Elmore Leonard, first published in 1976 and since also released as an audio recording. The first paperback edition was published under the alternative title of Ryan's Rules.
Ernest Stickley, Jr. reappears in Stick.The Moonshine War
The Moonshine War is a 1970 American crime comedy-drama film directed by Richard Quine, based on the novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard. It stars Patrick McGoohan, Richard Widmark, Alan Alda, and Will Geer.The Rosary Murders
The Rosary Murders is a 1987 American neo-noir mystery film starring Donald Sutherland as Father Koesler, based upon the novel by William X. Kienzle. Kienzle received screenplay credit, as did Elmore Leonard.
The story involves a series of murders in which the victims are all either Roman Catholic priests or nuns, each of whom is found with a black rosary. Father Koesler goes in search of the murderer but is caught in a quandary when the murderer confesses the crimes to him. He is unable to break the seal of confession by going to the police.
The film was shot in Detroit, Michigan at Holy Redeemer parish, a century old Roman Catholic church on Detroit's Southwest side.The Tall T
The Tall T is a 1957 American Western Technicolor film directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott, Richard Boone, and Maureen O'Sullivan. Adapted by Burt Kennedy from the short story "The Captives" by Elmore Leonard, the film is about an independent former ranch foreman who is kidnapped along with an heiress, who is being held for ransom by three ruthless outlaws. In 2000, The Tall T was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."Three-Ten to Yuma
"Three-Ten to Yuma" is a short story written by Elmore Leonard that was first published in Dime Western Magazine, a 1950s pulp magazine, in March 1953. It is one of the very few Western stories that has been adapted to the screen twice, in 1957 and in 2007.Touch (1997 film)
Touch is a 1997 film written and directed by Paul Schrader. It is based on a novel by Elmore Leonard.
The film, which has elements of drama and black comedy, stars Christopher Walken, Richard Schiff, Bridget Fonda, Skeet Ulrich, Tom Arnold, Gina Gershon, Lolita Davidovich, Janeane Garofalo and Paul Mazursky. It was shot in Fullerton, California.
The soundtrack of the movie was composed and recorded by Dave Grohl, and released on his Capitol Records imprint, Roswell Records. The majority of the tracks are instrumental, with the exception of "How Do You Do," as well as two songs performed with Louise Post of Veruca Salt. The release would also mark the first time Grohl used his pseudonym Late, as credited in the liner notes, since the release of Pocketwatch in 1992.