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'Red October' Novelist Tom Clancy Dies at 66
By Hillel Italie, AP National Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- In 1985, a year after the Cold War thriller "The Hunt for Red October" came out, Tom Clancy was invited to lunch at the White House, where he was questioned by Navy Secretary John Lehman.
Who, the secretary wanted to know, gave Clancy access to all that secret material?
Clancy, the best-selling novelist who died Tuesday in Baltimore at 66, insisted then, and after, that his information was strictly unclassified: books, interviews and papers that were easily accessed. Also, two submarine officers reviewed the final manuscript.
Government officials may have worried how Clancy knew that a Russian submarine spent only around 15 percent of its time at sea or how many SS-N-20 Seahawk missiles it carried.
But his extreme attention to technical detail earned him respect inside the intelligence community and beyond and helped make Clancy the most widely read and influential military novelist of his time, one who seemed to capture a shift in the country's mood away from the CIA misdeeds that came out in the 1970s to the heroic feats of Clancy's most famous creation, CIA analyst Jack Ryan.
Several of his novels, including "The Hunt for Red October," "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger," were later made into blockbuster movies, with another, "Jack Ryan," set for release on Christmas.
"Fundamentally, I think of myself as a storyteller, not a writer," Clancy once said. "I think about the characters I've created, and then I sit down and start typing and see what they will do. There's a lot of subconscious thought that goes on. It amazes me to find out, a few chapters later, why I put someone in a certain place when I did. It's spooky."
A tall, trim figure given to wearing sunglasses that made him look like a fighter pilot, Clancy had such a sure grasp of defense technology and spycraft that many readers were convinced he served in the military. But his experience was limited to ROTC classes in college. Near-sightedness kept him out of active duty.
A political conservative who once referred to Ronald Reagan as "my president," Clancy broke through commercially during a tense period of the Cold War, and with the help of Reagan himself.
In 1982, he began working on "The Hunt for Red October," drawing inspiration from a real-life 1975 mutiny aboard a Soviet missile frigate. He sold the manuscript to the first publisher he tried, the Naval Institute Press, which had never bought original fiction.
In real life, the uprising was put down, but in Clancy's book, a Soviet submarine skipper hands the vessel over to the U.S. and defects.
Someone thought enough of the novel to give it to Reagan as a Christmas gift. The president quipped at a dinner that he was losing sleep because he couldn't put the book down - a statement Clancy later said helped put him on the New York Times best-seller list.
"What happened to me was pure dumb luck. I'm not the new Hemingway," Clancy later said in an interview with the American Movie Channel.
"Of course, fortune does favor the brave. In battle, you forgive a man anything except an unwillingness to take risks. Sometimes you have to put it on the line. What I did was take time away from how I earned my living. My wife gave me hell. `Why are you doing this?' But she doesn't complain anymore."
Clancy said his dream had been simply to publish a book, hopefully a good one, so that he would be in the Library of Congress catalog. His dreams were answered many times over.
His novels were dependable hits, his publisher estimating worldwide sales at more than 100 million copies.
Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck and Harrison Ford were among the actors who played Jack Ryan on screen. The upcoming movie stars Chris Pine with Kenneth Branagh directing. Keira Knightly plays his wife and Kevin Costner plays his mentor at the CIA.
He often played off - and sometimes anticipated - world events, as in the pre-9/11 paranoid thriller "Debt of Honor," in which a jumbo jet destroys the U.S. Capitol during a joint meeting of Congress.
In 1996, a year before President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky was revealed, Clancy's "Executive Orders" imagined a sex scandal that helped lead to Ryan's becoming president.
He started off writing about the Russians, but also told stories of drug cartels, Irish-British tensions and Islamic terrorism.
He also wrote nonfiction works on the military and even ventured into video games, including the best-selling "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier," "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction" and "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent."
His recent Jack Ryan novels were collaborations with Mark Greaney, including "Threat Vector" and a release scheduled for December, "Command Authority."
As of midday Wednesday, "Command Authority" ranked No. 35 on Amazon's best-seller list.
Born in Baltimore on April 12, 1947, to a mailman and his wife, Clancy entered Loyola College as a physics major but switched to English as a sophomore. He later said that he wasn't smart enough for the rigors of science, although he clearly mastered it in his fiction.
After school, he worked in an insurance office that had military clients. By the early 1980s he had written a piece about the MX missile system that was published by the Naval Institute. Boredom with his job led him to try writing fiction.
Clancy stayed close to home. He lived in rural Calvert County, Md., and in 1993 he joined a group of investors led by Baltimore lawyer Peter Angelos who bought the Baltimore Orioles.
Clancy also attempted to bring an NFL team to Baltimore in 1993 but later dropped out.
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Last Update on October 24, 2014 07:07 GMT
HILARY SWANK: DEATH BECOMES HER?
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) -- Hilary Swank says even her own mom wonders why it seems she never lives long enough in the movies to see the credits roll. The actress has starred in a number of films in which her character -- or someone close to her -- dies. Swank says it isn't like she asks her people to go out and find scripts in which she ends up dead. But she says she does ask her people to point her to roles in which there are stories about women who can show the world "real, meaty, courageous, brave snippets of life." Her latest movie is "You're Not You" -- in which she plays a former pianist suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. Not trying to spoil anything -- but Swank says it she doesn't think it gives anything away to tell you that her character doesn't survive this one, either.
Hilary Swank says it's not like she goes looking for roles with people who end up dead.
<<CUT ..003 (10/24/14)>> 00:16 "part of life"
Hilary Swank says she's aware that death is often an element in her movies.
HALLE BERRY'S BRAS
NEW YORK (AP) -- Want to get your hands on some of Halle Berry's lingerie? You now have a chance -- now that she's reviving a line of underwear that has its origins in France. Berry is launching a collection of 10 bras and panties that will be sold at Target. They are born from the Scandale line -- which was started in 1932. Berry is an owner of the line -- and helps in the design of the lingerie. She notes women usually buy lingerie for themselves -- and if they find something they feel good in, it makes them "feel sexy and feminine and empowered." She says as a result, "their partners also reap the benefits." She spoke about the line while showing off a bra in her product line -- one that retails for under $20.
CLAIRE COFFEE: SETTLING IN
NEW YORK (AP) -- Claire Coffee has been married almost a year. But she says it's only now that she's starting to settle into the relationship. That's because her husband, Chris Thile, is in the band The Punch Brothers and is "on the road most of the time." The star of NBC's "Grimm" says the couple has now relocated to Portland, Oregon -- where the show is shot. And Coffee says, that means they'll have more time to spend together, even though her hubby is still an active part of the group. While she may not see much of her husband, Coffee says she gets to see lots of fans of Grimm in Portland. She says fans keep showing up -- even though producers don't go telling people when and where they will shoot. The first episode of season four of Grimm airs tonight on NBC.
Claire Coffee says Portland, Oregon isn't the easiest place to have a long-distance relationship.
<<CUT ..012 (10/24/14)>> 00:10 "hard to miss"
Claire Coffee says fans of "Grimm" seem to have no problem tracking down where the crew is shooting on any given day.
<<CUT ..013 (10/24/14)>> 00:10 "nice and respectful"
Claire Coffee says she thinks fans have inside information on how to find where "Grimm" is taping.
NEW YORK (AP) -- "The Roosevelts" are a ratings hit. The Ken Burns series has given PBS its biggest audience in two decades. That makes it Burns' third most popular film -- after "The Civil War" and "Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery." PBS says the series on the Roosevelts had an average audience of 9.2 million viewers. The saga of Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt featured seven two-hour episodes that aired last month.
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