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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.
More Entertainment News
Last Update on September 02, 2014 14:00 GMT
JENNIFER LAWRENCE-NUDE LEAKS
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It is not the kind of public exposure most celebrities want. Jennifer Lawrence has gone to the authorities to find those responsible for leaking nude photos of her online. The Oscar-winning actress claims the photos were stolen from her before being shared online. A statement from her publicist calls the move a "flagrant violation of privacy" -- and says that those responsible will be prosecuted. The FBI has taken the lead in probing similar thefts of images in the past. But a spokeswoman for the federal law enforcement agency declines to comment on the Lawrence story. And the actress' spokeswoman wouldn't specify which authorities have been contacted about the case.
AP Entertainment Editor Oscar Wells Gabriel reports federal authorities have handled these kinds of cases before.
<<CUT ..004 (09/02/14)>> 00:15 "a secure server"
Oscar Wells Gabriel
AP Entertainment Editor Oscar Wells Gabriel reports a major tech company is also looking into the leaked celebrity nude photos case.
MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD-NUDE PHOTOS
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also confirming that there were nude photos of her posted online. And she is firing back through a Twitter message. She says to those who might be gaping at the photos -- she hopes they "feel great" about themselves. She says she took the photos with her husband years ago in the privacy of her home and thought the photos were "deleted long ago." Winstead says the fact that they were deleted images means she "can only imagine the creepy effort" that went into dredging them up.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The movie is called "Guardians of the Galaxy" -- but it might be the savior of the box office this summer. The movie, based on Marvel comics characters, topped the Labor Day box office with $22 million in receipts. While that's a modest take for an extended summer weekend, it's the third time in its five weeks of release that the movie has topped the box office list. And with sales of $280 domestically so far, it's the top grossing-film to date this year. Despite the success of Guardians, summer box-office totals are down almost 15 percent from last year. Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak says without Guardians, Hollywood would be staring at a 20 percent deficit compared to last year.
AP Entertainment Editor Oscar Wells Gabriel runs down the list of top films over the Labor Day weekend.
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Sound of excerpt from "Guardians of the Galaxy"
Sound of excerpt from "Guardians of the Galaxy," which was tops at the Labor Day weekend box office.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- This summer wasn't nearly as hot as ones in the past -- and in this case, we're talking about the movies, not the weather. This will go into the books as one of Hollywood's weakest summers. And there are a couple of reasons for that. For one thing, studios were reluctant to bring out their big guns: blockbuster movies to guarantee a strong box office presence this summer. One theory is that Hollywood didn't want to compete with the World Cup soccer matches, so they withheld some of their best material for future release. And the death of Paul Walker took one of the top movie franchises out of the summer mix. The release of the latest in the "Fast and Furious" series had been due this summer. But it was pushed back a year because of Walker's death.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- She's one of the biggest stars to come out of "American Idol" and soon she'll be a new mom. Season 4 Idol winner Carrie Underwood and husband, NHL player Mike Fisher, are having a baby. They each posted messages on their Twitter accounts with Underwood saying hers was in honor of Labor Day. Underwood's publicist confirms the couple is expecting their first baby next spring. Underwood has won six Grammys. Fisher is a center for the NHL's Nashville Predators.
One of country's biggest stars is pregnant. The AP's Jamie Friar reports on a holiday message to fans.
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Excerpt of Carrie Underwood
Excerpt of Carrie Underwood performing "All-American Girl."
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Excerpt of Carrie Underwood
Excerpt of Carrie Underwood performing "Cowboy Casanova."
NEW YORK (AP) -- No updates on Joan Rivers. She remains hospitalized in New York after suffering cardiac arrest last week at a doctor's office. Her family has been with her at Mount Sinai Hospital, hoping for her recovery. Two of her "Fashion Police" co-stars have expressed support for her. Giuliana Rancic says while Rivers is "the strongest woman" she knows, every prayer for her helps. And Joan Osbourne says she hadn't prayed for years -- but did the other night for Rivers. She encouraged others to do the same.
CHICAGO (AP) -- Can a show like "Scandal" make you fat? A new study suggests you need to be careful. The study by researchers at Cornell University finds that action-packed TV shows caused people to snack more than more sedate TV fare. The study suggests that faster-paced TV shows seem to distract viewers more -- which leads them to become more involved in mindless eating. It's unclear whether the study implies that TV shows that are gripping will lead to gripping those love handles. But the study's lead author says viewers should always be wary of stuffing their faces while watching their flat screens.
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