Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Michener spent his life immersing himself in cultures and history. He then used his knowledge and experiences to create elaborate and popular epic novels, many of which have been made into feature films and television miniseries such as South Pacific (1958, based on his prize-winning novel Tales of the South Pacific), Sayanora (1957), and the 26-hour miniseries Centennial. Born in New York City near the turn of the century, Michener was orphaned as a young child and sent to the Bucks County Poorhouse in Doylestown, PA, until he was adopted by Quakers Edwin and Mable Michener. In 1929, Michener graduated from Swarthmore College with top honors in English. Michener spent much of his life as a teacher and did not stop until he was in his eighties. He wrote his first novel, Tales of the South Pacific, while at sea with the Navy during WWII; after it became a major critical and popular success, he spent much time living abroad and writing. Having written nearly 40 books and selling some 75 million of them, Michener became an extremely wealthy man. He was also an unusually generous man and donated tens of millions of dollars to philanthropic causes, including education. In 1996, after he gave away some 24 million dollars, he was numbered among Forbes magazine's Top 25 philanthropists. Michener died in his Austin, TX, home on October 16, 1997, after discontinuing kidney dialysis treatment. He was 90.