Michael Crichton -- whose books were made into films including "Jurassic Park" and "The Andromeda Strain" -- died Tuesday. He was 66.
The author died "after a courageous and private battle against cancer," according to his Web site. A statement on MichaelCrichton.net said Crichton died "unexpectedly" in Los Angeles.
Crichton was a brand-name author, known for his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as the rampant microbe of "Andromeda" or dinosaurs running amok in "Jurassic Park," one of his many books that spawned major Hollywood movies.
Crichton also was a screenwriter and filmmaker, earning producing and writing credits for the film versions of many of his titles. He also created the NBC hospital drama "ER" in 1994.
"Michael was an extraordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful," "ER" executive producer John Wells said Wednesday. "No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours, and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation. I was blessed to have known him and proud to be able to have called him my friend."
In recent years, Crichton was the rare writer to get on well with President Bush, perhaps because of his skepticism about global warming, which Crichton addressed in the 2004 novel "State of Favor." Crichton's views were strongly condemned by environmentalists, who alleged that he was hurting efforts to pass legislation to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.
A new novel by Crichton had been tentatively scheduled to come next month, but publisher HarperCollins said the book was postponed indefinitely because of his illness.
An "in memoriam" posting on his Web site read, "While the world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us -- and entertained us all while doing so -- his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes. He did this with a wry sense of humor that those who were privileged to know him personally will never forget.
"Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand.