Few people have made such an indelible mark on our culture as Michael Crichton. A medical doctor by training, Crichton is best known for being a prolific writer and filmmaker. He first rose to fame in the 1990s when his collaboration with Steven Spielberg produced a series of blockbuster films based on his novel, Jurassic Park. Through his many books and movies, Crichton brought science to a mainstream audience, introducing readers to concepts like cloning and chaos theory. In 1994, he made history as the only creative artist to remain at the No 1 position in three mediums of entertainment simultaneously: television, film, and book. Of his 31 total books, including fiction and nonfiction, 14 of them have been adapted into films. Using his scientific background to write, his novels often explore technology and failures of human interaction with it, especially resulting in catastrophes. Widely regarded as a modern-day Renaissance man, Crichton was the recipient of numerous awards throughout his highly productive career, including Emmy and Academy Awards. Before his passing in 2008, Crichton also served on many different non-profit boards that promoted the advancement of the arts.
Crichton had always planned on becoming a writer and began his studies at Harvard College in 1960. Right from the start he was remarkable for many reasons — from his writing, to his scholarship, to his height. Standing at 6’ 9”, Crichton was one of the tallest freshmen that year. He used this advantage in athletics, playing basketball for a couple of years at Harvard. Crichton was also an editor on The Harvard Crimson, writing pieces ranging from book reviews to news clippings to sports game recaps. At first, he pursued studies in literature, but later switched as a result of issues with a professor. In 1962 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biological anthropology, graduating summa cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa society.
Crichton later enrolled at Harvard Medical School. To help pay the bills, he started writing novels, publishing his first novel in 1966 under a pseudonym. He found he could write a book in a week and then sell them for $2,500 each. In 1969 he graduated from Harvard Medical School, the same year that his book “A Case of Need” won an Edgar Award, a prestigious prize in the mystery genre.
For the rest of his life Crichton remained a strong supporter of his alma mater. At least twice he returned to Harvard to lend his professional clout to the next generation of doctors and artists. In 1978 Crichton was back to preview his new movie, Coma. Later in 2002, Crichton was seen at Harvard Medical School again. Using his insider knowledge, he fielded questions about Hollywood and delivered a lecture which explored the intersection of Media and Medicine. "It’s nice to be back at medical school," he told the Harvard audience, "which is something you can feel after you've been away for several decades.”