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Robert Crichton; Wrote Bestsellers

March 29, 1993|Associated Press

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Robert Crichton, author of the bestsellers "The Great Impostor" and "The Secret of Santa Vittoria," both of which were made into films, has died. He was 68.

The cause of death was heart failure, his family said. He died Tuesday at a nursing home.

"The Great Impostor," written in 1959, was the true story of Ferdinand W. Demara Jr., a man who posed as a priest, a prison warden and a doctor. The 1961 movie version starred Tony Curtis.

"The Secret of Santa Vittoria," written in 1966, was a novel loosely based on the story of an Italian village that hid its hoard of wine from the Nazis. The 1969 movie version starred Anthony Quinn and was directed by Stanley Kramer.

An Army sergeant in World War II, Crichton fought in the Battle of the Bulge and won a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. After graduating from Harvard University, he tried raising chickens until a storm destroyed his flock. He turned to free-lance writing.

He is survived by his wife, Judith, three daughters, a son, sister, brother and five grandchildren.

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