John D. MacDonald was born in Sharon, Pa, and educated at the Universities of Pennsylvania, Syracuse and Harvard, where he took an MBA in 1939. During WW2, he rose to the rank of Colonel (, and while serving in the Army and in the Far East, sent a short story to his wife for sale, successfully. He served in the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations. After the war, he decided to try writing for a year, to see if he could make a living. Over 500 short stories and 70 novels resulted, including 21 Travis McGee novels.
Following complications of an earlier heart bypass operation, MacDonald slipped into a coma on December 10 and died at age 70, on December 28, 1986, in St. Mary's Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was survived by his wife Dorothy (1911-1989) and a son, Maynard.
In the years since his death MacDonald has been praised by authors as diverse as Stephen King, Spider Robinson, Jimmy Buffett, Kingsley Amis and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.. Thirty-three years after his passing the Travis McGee novels are still in print.