During his career, Crichton wrote close to 30 novels, many of which were adapted into television shows and/or movies. His extensive knowledge about technology, interest in scifi, and creativity, have captured readers’ imaginations for years. Explore a few of the most interesting facts about his life below.
Michael Crichton plagiarized an essay in college
While at Harvard College studying English, Crichton was disillusioned with one of his professors. No matter how well he wrote or how hard he worked, he felt as though his professor was grading his work unfairly. To test his theory, he copied and submitted an essay George Orwell wrote in class as his own work.
The professor gave him a B- on the paper and didn’t spot the plagiarism. This seemingly confirms the young author’s assumptions about the teacher’s willingness to give good grades.
Out of frustration with his English program, Crichton changed his focus to biological anthropology.
He created the TV series ER
Famously, and perhaps surprisingly to those who have never heard this fact before, Michael Crichton created the TV series ER. He wrote the series pilot “24 Hours” and based the plot on experiences during his time as a medical student. Throughout the 15 seasons of the show, he was credited as Executive Producer.
ER won 116 awards during its 15 seasons, including a Peabody Award.
Michael Crichton was 6’9” tall
This is perhaps one of the better-known unusual facts about Michael Crichton. He was extremely tall, nearly 7’, something that reportedly made him feel uncomfortable. During his early career, his pen names were punned off his height. He used both “John Lange” (Lange meaning “long” in German) and “Jeffery Hudson.” The latter was inspired by a little person in English king Charles I’s court.
When he died, he had a huge collection of art
Michael Crichton was an incredibly successful writer. Some of the payoffs from his hard work went to acquiring art pieces. In 2010, after his death, his estate auctioned off the art collection. He had “museum-caliber” pieces, The Daily Beast reported. This included Picassocs, readymades, Rauschenbergs, Jeff Koons, and two Warhols.
Michael Crichton used his writing talent to pay for medical school
Michael Crichton describes the beginning of his career as an attempt to pay off his medical school debt. He wrote thrillers under pseudonyms for years before publishing The Andromeda Strain under his own name. He was initially concerned, before quitting medicine, that his patients would be put off by the idea of having a doctor who was also an author. He believed they might think he would use them and their illnesses in his novels.
Crichton was friends with the artist Jasper Johns
Johns is an American painter who was born in 1930. He’s best known for his abstract expressionism and is considered to be one of the most important artists of his generation. He and Crichton were friends throughout much of their lives. So much so that Crichton wrote a coffee table book, Jasper Johns, about the artist’s career. Crichton also owned some of Johns’ art.
He co-wrote a video game in 1984
Interestingly, Michael Crichton co-wrote a video game called Amazon in the mid-1980s. It was based on his novel Congo, which follows three adventurers who set out on a quest to find the lost city of Zinj. There, they hope to uncover diamonds and other riches. Along the way, they investigate several mysterious deaths. They face cannibals, gorillas, and a genetic engineering experiment that’s gone terribly wrong.
He wrote the video game’s story and did some of the programming. The game sold 100,000 copies when it was released but is rarely played or spoken about today.
The HBO series Westworld is based on his writing
Michael Crichton wrote the screenplay for the 1973 film Westworld which was later adapted into the award-winning drama on HBO in 2016. The Westworld film was highly influential and popular during its time. It was released in 1973 and followed a group of friends who travel to an advanced theme park where they can live their fantasies by interacting with extraordinarily life-like robots.
Michael Crichton was married five times
His first marriage was to Joan Radam in 1965. The two divorced in 1970. The second was to Kathy St. Johns and lasted from 1978 to 1980. His third marriage was of a similar length to Suzanne Childs. It ended in 1983. His fourth marriage was to Anne-Marie Martin and lasted five years, ending in 2003. He was married to Sherri Alexander from 2005 until he died in 2008. His fourth divorce was perhaps the messiest. He lost upwards of $30 million, much of his art collection, and numerous horses the couple owned together.
What is Michael Crichton best known for?
Michael Crichton is best known as the creator of ER and as the author of Jurassic Park, as well as the originator of the “Jurassic Park” franchise.
What was Michael Crichton’s first book?
The first book Michael Crichton published under his own name was The Andromeda Strain in 1969. Until his death, it was still considered one of his best works of fiction.
Where did Michael Crichton grow up?
Michael Crichton was born in Chicago, Illinois, but spent much more of his childhood in Roslyn, New York. He showed an interest in reading and writing from a young age.
Where did Michael Crichton go to college?
Michael Crichton attended Harvard College, Harvard University, and then Harvard Medical School. He eventually dropped out, realizing that medicine was not for him and that he’d rather pursue a writing career.