The author sold more than 200 million books before he turned 50. The son of a prep school math teacher, he tried his hand at music, without success. What inspired him to write? A vacation page-turner by Sidney Shelton, author of "The Other Side of Midnight" (and creator of TV’s "I Dream of Jeannie." He and his wife, Blythe, have donated to Phillips Exeter, Amherst College (his alma mater) and various causes in New Hampshire, where they live. In 2009, he said it was possible to be religious and scientific at the same time. "The farther you go into science, the mushier the ground gets," he said. "You start to say, 'Oh, there is an order and a spiritual aspect to science.'"
© Alessandro Garofalo / Reuters