“Death Wish” novelist Brian Garfield, whose murderous classic about a right-wing vigilante launched a film franchise starring Charles Bronson, has died at age 79.
Garfield died “peacefully” on Dec. 29 at his home in Pasadena, literary agent Judy Coppage said. He is survived by his wife, Bina.
A New York City native who grew up in Arizona, Garfield wrote dozens of books, in a variety of genres, from thrillers to war stories, and his worldwide sales topped 20 million copies. Many of his works were adapted into feature films and television movies, including “Hopscotch,” which he helped produce and write; “Wild Times” and the acclaimed “The Stepfather,” which starred Terry O’Quinn as a serial killer. Garfield’s awards included an Edgar in 1976 for “Hopscotch” for the year’s best crime novel.
“RIP Brian Garfield. Fine writer, friend for years,” crime novelist Lawrence Block tweeted.
He was best known for “Death Wish,” the story of a liberal New Yorker who becomes a right-wing vigilante after his family is viciously assaulted, was published in 1972. The first “Death Wish” film, inevitably compared to Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry,” came out two years later and was followed by several others with Bronson, including “Death Wish II” and “Death Wish 3.” Bruce Willis starred in a “Death Wish” remake last year and Garfield, who disliked many of the “Death Wish” sequels, continued the story himself with the 1975 novel “Death Sentence.”
“One does get stuck with a reputation,” Garfield told the online publication NovelRocket in 2007. “Sometimes one may deserve it. All one can do is keep working and ignore the idiots.”
Garfield’s mother was Frances Garfield, a portrait artist and longtime friend of Georgia O’Keeffe’s. He was writing from an early age and completed his first novel, the Western “Range Justice,” when he was 18. He also was a musician and toured with an early rock ‘n roll rock group, the Palisades.