Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Life of Michael Crichton - Part 1


Today would have been Michael Crichton’s 69th birthday. To honor him, we will explore his life, starting today, October 23, and ending on November 4, 2011, the third anniversary of his death.

Michael Crichton was born John Michael Crichton on October 23, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. While his father was in the Navy during World War II, the family moved to Fort Morgan, Colorado. After the war, the family moved to Roslyn, Long Island, New York, where Crichton grew up.

His father, John Henderson Crichton, was the president of the American Association of Advertising Agencies for 15 years, and when he died in 1977, he merited an obituary in the New York Times. Michael Crichton wrote about his father’s death in his autobiography Travels. Crichton’s father was 6’5”, and was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 1978. He was a journalist and editor, which influenced his son to become a writer.

Here’s a video of John H. Crichton interviewing advertising great David Ogilvy in 1977.

Crichton’s mother, Zula Miller Crichton, was described by her son as a “very dedicated parent and very encouraging to her children…She was very interested in all kinds of art, and would drag her kids to museums and plays at least once a week.” She would take Michael out of school to attend classes on modern art. Zula Miller Crichton died earlier this year.

Crichton had three younger siblings—brother Douglas, and two sisters, Kimberly and Catherine. His brother co-wrote the novel Dealing: Or the Berkley to Boston Forty-Brick Lost Bag Blues (1970). Michael and Douglas used the pseudonym “Michael Douglas”. The back cover of the hardcover edition of the novel has a photo showing the brothers as boys.

Michael Crichton wrote a nine-page puppet play for a third grade class assignment, which seems to be his first creative work. He also mentioned writing “long short stories in the sixth grade.”

Michael Crichton - biography

Michael Crichton – For Younger Readers

Michael Crichton: Private View

Travels by Michael Crichton

“Michael Crichton (rhymes with frighten)” by Israel Shenker, New York Times, Jun 8, 1969

Obituary - John H. Crichton, New York Times, Dec. 28, 1977

Obituary - John H. Crichton, Advertising Age, Jan. 2, 1978


Bali Scott said...

My sixth grade public elementary school teacher was one of Michael's two sisters. She talked about his struggling authorship just before "Andromeda Strain" became successful. I wonder which one she was, Kimberly or Catherine, because in that era you only called, and new, your teacher as Mrs. or Miss lastname.

Bali Scott said...

Uhm, "knew," not "new."

Anonymous said...

I was friends with his sister in Conn I only knew her as KC or Casey I talked to him a lot as we both belonged to the same club —The Lake Club in New Canaan. He was 8 yrs older than me