Military Wiki
Elmore Leonard
In 1989
Born Elmore John Leonard, Jr.
(1925-10-11)October 11, 1925
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died August 20, 2013(2013-08-20) (aged 87)
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, United States
  • University of Detroit High School (1943)
  • Blessed Sacrament School, Detroit
Alma mater University of Detroit English, Philosophy (1950)
Occupation Author, screenwriter
  • Beverly Claire Cline (1949–1977; divorced)
  • Joan Shepard (1979–1993; her death)
  • Christine Kent (1993–2012; divorced)
  • Jane (Jones)
  • Peter
  • Chris
  • Bill
  • Kate (Dudley)
    (all with Cline)
  • Flora Amelia (née Rive)
  • Elmore John Leonard, Sr.
  • Margaret (sister)
  • 13 grandchildren
  • 15 great-grandchildren
Military career
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Flag of the United States Navy (fringe).svg United States Navy
Years of service 1943–46
Unit USN-Seabees-Insignia.svg Seabees
Battles/wars WWII

Elmore John Leonard, Jr. (October 11, 1925 – August 20, 2013) was an American novelist and screenwriter. His earliest novels, published in the 1950s, were , but Leonard 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, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, and Rum Punch (adapted for the movie Jackie Brown). Leonard's writings include short stories that became the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the current FX television series Justified.

Early life and education[]

Leonard was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Flora Amelia (née Rive) and Elmore John Leonard, Sr.[3] 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 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).[4] 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[5] 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.[5]


Leonard got his first break in the fiction market during the 1950s, regularly publishing pulp Western novels. Leonard had his first success in 1951 when Argosy published the short story "Trail of the Apaches".[6]:29 During the 1950s and early 1960s, he continued writing , publishing more than 30 short stories. He wrote his first novel, The Bounty Hunters, in 1953 and followed this with four other novels. Five of his westerns were turned into major movies before 1972:[7] The Tall T[8] (Richard Boone), 3:10 to Yuma[9] (Glenn Ford), and Hombre[10] (Paul Newman), Valdez Is Coming[11] (Burt Lancaster), and Joe Kidd[12] (Clint Eastwood).

He went on to write seventeen novels and stories in the mystery, crime, and more topical genres which were made into movies between 1969 and 2013.

In 1985, his breakout novel, Glitz was published.[13] At the time of his death he had sold tens of millions of copies of his novels.[13]

Among his later movies are[14] Jackie Brown (directed by Quentin Tarantino) which is a "homage to the author’s trademark rhythm and pace";[13] Get Shorty (1995, John Travolta and Gene Hackman); and Out of Sight (1999, George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, directed by Steven Soderbergh).

Personal life[]

He married Beverly Claire Cline in 1949, and they had five children together—three daughters and two sons[15]—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.[16][17][18]

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 from the stroke.[19] On August 20, 2013, Leonard died at his home in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills of complications from the stroke.[20] He was 87 years old.[16] Leonard is survived by his five children, 13 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.[17]

Writing style[]

Commended by critics for his gritty realism and strong dialogue, Leonard sometimes took liberties with grammar in the interest of speeding along the story.[21] 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: "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."[21]

Elmore Leonard has been called "the Dickens of Detroit" because of his intimate portraits of people from that city; however, Leonard had said, "If I lived in Buffalo, I'd write about Buffalo."[6]:90 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.[22] Stephen King has called him "the great American writer."[23]

Leonard often cited Ernest Hemingway as one of his most important influences, but at the same time criticized Hemingway for his lack of humor.[24]

Awards and honors[]

  • 1992 Grand Master Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America[25]
  • 2008 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Award for outstanding achievement in American literature; received during the 13th Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference held at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, United States.[citation needed]
  • 2010 Peabody Award, FX's Justified [26]
  • 2012 National Book Award, Medal for Distinguished Contribution[27]



Year Novel Film Adaptation
1953 The Bounty Hunters
1954 The Law at Randado 1990 – Border Shootout
1956 Escape from Five Shadows
1959 Last Stand at Saber River 1997 – Last Stand at Saber River
1961 Hombre 1967 – Hombre
1969 The Big Bounce 1969 – The Big Bounce
2004 – The Big Bounce
The Moonshine War 1970 – The Moonshine War
1970 Valdez Is Coming 1971 – Valdez Is Coming
1972 Forty Lashes Less One
1974 Mr. Majestyk 1974 – Mr. Majestyk
52 Pick-Up 1984 – The Ambassador
1986 – 52 Pick-Up
1976 Swag
1977 Unknown Man No. 89
The Hunted
1978 The Switch 2013 – Life of Crime
1979 Gunsights
1980 City Primeval
Gold Coast 1997 – TV movie
1981 Split Images 1992 – TV movie
1982 Cat Chaser 1989 – Cat Chaser
1983 Stick 1985 – Stick
Edgar Award, Best Novel (1984)
1985 Glitz 1988 – TV movie
1987 Bandits
Touch 1997 – Touch
1988 Freaky Deaky 2012 – Freaky Deaky
1989 Killshot 2009 – Killshot
1990 Get Shorty 1995 – Get Shorty
1991 Maximum Bob 1998 – TV series Maximum Bob
1992 Rum Punch 1997 – Jackie Brown
1993 Pronto 1997 – TV movie
2010 – TV series Justified
1995 Riding the Rap 2010 – TV series Justified
1996 Out of Sight 1998 – Out of Sight
2003 – TV series Karen Sisco
Naked Came the Manatee
(One chapter of serial novel)
1998 Cuba Libre
Tonto Woman
(One chapter of serial novel)
2007 – Academy Awards nominated Live Action Short
1999 Be Cool 2005 – Be Cool
2000 Pagan Babies
2001 Fire in the Hole 2010 – TV series Justified
2002 When the Women Come Out to Dance
Anthology (includes Fire in the Hole)
Tishomingo Blues
2004 A Coyote's in the House
2004 Mr. Paradise
2005 The Hot Kid
2006 Comfort to the Enemy
Published serially in New York Times
2007 Up in Honey's Room
2009 Road Dogs
2010 Djibouti
2012 Raylan 2010 – TV series Justified


Year Title Director Co-writers
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 series) Virgil W. Vogel
1989 Cat Chaser Abel Ferrara James Borelli


Year Story Film Adaptation
1953 3:10 to Yuma 1957 – 3:10 to Yuma
2007 – 3:10 to Yuma
1955 The Captives 1957 – The Tall T
2004 The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard

Also wrote a short story in the anthology Murderers' Row edited by Otto Penzler (2001) (back story for Tishomingo Blues)


  • 10 Rules of Writing (2007)
  • Foreword to Walter Mirisch's book I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History


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 Out of Sight in 1998, Get Shorty in 1995, and Rum Punch (as the 1997 film Jackie Brown). 52 Pick-Up was first adapted very loosely into the 1984 film The Ambassador, starring Robert Mitchum and, two years later, under its original title starring Roy Scheider. He has also written several screenplays based on his novels, plus original ones such as Joe Kidd.

The 1967 film Hombre starring Paul Newman was an adaptation of Leonard's novel of the same name.

His short story "Three-Ten to Yuma" and novels The Big Bounce and 52 Pick-Up have each been filmed twice.

Other novels filmed include:

  • Mr. Majestyk (with Charles Bronson)
  • Valdez Is Coming (with Burt Lancaster)
  • 52 Pick-Up (with Roy Scheider)
  • Stick (with Burt Reynolds)
  • The Moonshine War (with Alan Alda)
  • Last Stand at Saber River (with Tom Selleck)
  • Gold Coast (with David Caruso)
  • Glitz (with Jimmy Smits)
  • Cat Chaser (with Peter Weller)
  • Out of Sight (George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez)
  • Touch (with Christopher Walken)
  • Pronto (with Peter Falk)
  • Be Cool (with John Travolta)
  • Killshot (Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke).
  • Get Shorty (with John Travolta)
  • Life of Crime (with Jennifer Aniston)


The short-lived 1998 TV series Maximum Bob was based on Leonard's novel of the same name. It aired on ABC for 7 episodes and starred Beau Bridges.

The TV series Karen Sisco (2003–04) starring Carla Gugino was based on the U.S. Marshall character from the film Out of Sight played by Jennifer Lopez.

The 2010 FX series Justified is based around the popular Leonard character U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens from the novels Pronto and Riding the Rap and the short story "Fire in the Hole."

Leonard was referenced in the television show Leverage in episode 105 "The Bank Shot Job" when Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison and Beth Riesgraf as Parker introduced themselves to police officers as FBI agents Leonard and Elmore.

Leonard was referenced in the television show Homicide: Life on the Street in the first episode "Gone for Goode" when Richard Belzer as Detective John Munch tells a lying suspect that his false story had an "Elmore Leonard quality."[28]

In 1992, Leonard played himself in a script he wrote and, with actor Paul Lazar dramatizing a scene from the novel Swag, appeared in a humorous television short about his writing process which aired on the "Byline Showtime" series on Showtime Networks.[18]


  1. "Elmore Leonard Interview - Pt. 1 - From the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference". YouTube. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  2. "Quentin Tarantino @ David Letterman, 1997". YouTube. 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  3. Ells, Kevin (January 31, 2011). "Elmore Leonard Jr.". Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (published August 21, 2013). Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  4. Jesse Thorn (July 3, 2007). "Podcast: TSOYA: Elmore Leonard". Maximum Fun (Podcast). Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Elmore Leonard > About the Author". Random House. Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Challen, Paul C. (2000). Get Dutch! : a biography of Elmore Leonard. Toronto: ECW Press. ISBN 1550224220. OCLC 44674355. 
  7. Elmore Leonard - IMDb
  8. The Tall T (1957) - IMDb
  9. Trein van tien over drie (1957) - IMDb
  10. Hombre (1967) - IMDb
  11. Valdez Is Coming (1971) - IMDb
  12. Joe Kidd (1972) - IMDb
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Novelist elevated crime thriller,mastered dialogue"; Julie Hinds; Detroit Free Press; August 21, 2013; page A1
  14. Elmore Leonard, writer of sharp, colorful crime stories, dead at 87 -
  15. Leonard, Elmore (2009). Comfort to the enemy and other Carl Webster tales. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0297856685. OCLC 302068307. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Whitall, Susan (August 20, 2013). "Elmore Leonard, the 'Dickens of Detroit,' wrote with gritty flair". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Stasio, Marilyn (August 20, 2013). "Elmore Leonard, Who Refined the Crime Thriller, Dies". Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Elmore Leonard - Biography". 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  19. Whitall, Susan (August 5, 2013). "Elmore Leonard in hospital recovering from stroke". The Detroit News. Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  20. "Photos: Elmore Leonard dies". Arizona Daily Star. August 20, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 Leonard, Elmore (July 16, 2001). "Writers on Writing; Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle". Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  22. Leonard, Elmore (January 23, 1998) (PDF). Martin Amis interviews Elmore Leonard. Interview with Amis, Martin. Archived from the original on 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  23. King, Stephen (February 1, 2007). "The Tao of Steve". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  24. Best-selling novelist Elmore Leonard, master of verbal tics and black humour Mark Lawson Guardian 20 August 2013
  25. "Edgar Award Winners and Nominees Database". Mystery Writers of America. search using surname Leonard. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  26. 2010 Peabody Recipients
  27. Flood, Alison (September 20, 2012). "Elmore Leonard to be honoured by National Book Foundation". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  28. ""Homicide: Life on the Street" Gone for Goode (TV episode 1993) – Quotes". Archived from the original on 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2012-04-03. "Frankly, I preferred your Jamaican story better. It had a kind of Elmore Leonard quality." 

External links[]

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