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'Jurassic Park' author Crichton dead

US best-selling author Michael Crichton, who wrote such novels as "The Andromeda Strain" and "Jurassic Park," and created the popular TV drama "ER," has died at 66, his family said today.

Crichton, a medical doctor turned novelist whose books have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide, died "unexpectedly" yesterday in Los Angeles after a private battle with cancer, his family said.

"While the world knew him as a great story teller 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," his family said in a statement on the website.

"He did this with a wry sense of humor that those who were privileged to know him personally will never forget."

The Crichton family asked for privacy and said a private funeral service would be held for the author.

Crichton was born in Chicago on October 23, 1942 and wrote his first novels under pen names while attending Harvard Medical School. "The Andromeda Strain," which was published in 1969, became his first best-seller.

In addition to "Jurassic Park" and its sequel, "The Lost World," which became blockbuster Hollywood films, Crichton wrote "Congo," "The Terminal Man," "Prey" and "State of Fear" among others.

More than a dozen of his novels have been made into films and in 1996 he won an Emmy for "ER."