In Stephen King's novel 'Salem's Lot, a character tells Ben Mears, the novelist hero: "You ought to write books with better sense. Like the guy who writes those Travis McGee stories. A man can sink his teeth into one of those."
John D. MacDonald won the French Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere in 1964 and the American Book Award in 1980.
John D. MacDonald received the Benjamin Franklin Award for Short Story in 1955.
In 1983, publisher Avon Books had to recall 60,000 copies of a novel that its author acknowledged was "modeled" on John D. MacDonald's 1974 McGee novel, The Dreadful Lemon Sky. Author Dimitri Gat admitted he stole the story for his novel Nevsky's Demon from the McGee novel.
In its 1985 review of The Lonely Silver Rain, the New York Times wrote, "Mr. MacDonald has proved that one need not be sloppy, lazy, or utterly commercial in maintaining the flavor of the good old stuff. Formula fiction keeps the reader coming back for more - and no one does it better, or with more integrity or respect for his audience, than Mr. MacDonald."
Rumors persist about a final Travis McGee novel titled A Black Banner for McGee that was unpublished and completed by John D. MacDonald before his death. Despite statements from his widow and son to the contrary, some believe this manuscript exists.
Stephen King has called John D. MacDonald "the great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller."
Kurt Vonnegut said that "to diggers a thousand years from now, the works of John D. MacDonald would be a treasure on the order of the tomb of Tutankhamen."
Jimmy Buffet's song "Incommunicado" references MacDonald: "Travis McGee's still in Cedar Key, that's what old John MacDonald said..."
John D. MacDonald was named a grand master of the Mystery Writers of America in 1972.
Actor Darren McGavin provided the narration for the audiobooks of MacDonald's Travis McGee novels.
His 1957 novel The Executioners was filmed in 1962 as Cape Fear and remade in 1991.
All 21 of his Travis McGee novels feature a color in their titles (Dress Her In Indigo, Nightmare in Pink, etc.)
John D. MacDonald: When you see the ugliness behind the tears of another person, it makes you take a closer look at your own.
John D. MacDonald: Way over half the murders committed in this country are by close friends or relatives of the deceased. A gun makes a loud and satisfying noise in a moment of passion and requires no agility and very little strength. How many murders wouldn't happen, if they all had to use hammers and knives?
John D. MacDonald: Up with life. Stamp out all small and large indignities. Leave everyone alone to make it without pressure. Down with hurting. Lower the standard of living. Do without plastics. Smash the servo-mechanisms. Stop grabbing. Snuff the breeze and hug the kids. Love all love. Hate all hate.
John D. MacDonald: The only thing that prisons demonstrably cure is heterosexuality.
John D. MacDonald: The only thing in the world worth a damn is the strange, touching, pathetic, awesome nobility of the individual human spirit.
John D. MacDonald: I've always recognized that Florida is a slightly tacky state. You love it in spite of itself.
John D. MacDonald: I just cannot read people like Leon Uris and James Michener. When you've covered one line, you can guess the next one. I like people who know the nuances of words, who know how to stick the right one in the right place. Sometimes you can laugh out loud at an exceptionally good phrase. I find it harder and harder to find fiction to read, because I either read it with dismay at how good it is or disgust at how bad it is. I do like the guys like John Cheever that have a sense of story, because, goddammit, you want to know what happens to somebody. You don't want a lot of self-conscious little logjams thrown in your way.
John D. MacDonald: (when asked if he would ever kill off Travis McGee) It would be really wicked so to do because of the people who haven't yet met the gentleman. That would be a poor legacy to leave them.
John D. MacDonald: Any man who outgrows the myths of childhood is ninety-nine percent aware and convinced of his own mortality. But then comes the chilly breath on the nape of the neck, a stirring of the air by the wings of the bleak angel. When a man becomes one hundred percent certain of his inevitable death, he gets The Look.