Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt, a teacher who in his sixties wrote a memoir of his desperately poor Irish childhood that became the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angela's Ashes, has died. He was 78.

McCourt, whose novel was adapted into a 1999 film of the same name, died of metastatic melanoma, said his brother, actor and writer Malachy McCourt. Frank McCourt, who lived in New York City and Roxbury, Conn., died Sunday, The New York Times reported.

See Frank McCourt talk about the importance of books

Angela's Ashes won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 and sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. The film, directed by Alan Parker, starred Emily Watson as McCourt's mother, the Angela of the title.

McCourt used the fame he gained from the book and movie to celebrate reading and writing. Last year he surprised a college fiction class on MTVU's Stand-In, telling the students he never expected a big reception.

"I thought when I was writing it, I'd be lucky to get a publisher, I'd be lucky to get an agent. Right away it went on the best-seller list of The New York Times," he said. "I was even on with Conan O'Brien three times. That's reaching the height of fame."

McCourt, who also wrote the memoirs 'Tis and Teacher Man, is survived by his wife, Ellen Frey McCourt, a daughter, three grandchildren, and three brothers. His brother Alphie is also a writer.