Tom Clancy, the author of numerous bestselling “techno-thrillers,” including “The Hunt for Red October,” “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger” has died. He was 66. The New York Daily News reports that Clancy died at a hospital near his Maryland home.
Clancy ran an insurance agency before eventually hitting it big as a popular writer. A regular reader of the journal “Naval Proceedings,” Clancy became a self-educated military aficionado. This eventually led him to write his first published novel, “The Hunt for Red October,” which was published by the Naval Institute Press in 1984 and remains their bestselling book.
“The Hunt for Red October” was publicly praised by President Ronald Reagan, which helped fuel popular interest in the novel. In 1990, a highly successful feature film adaptation directed by John McTiernan and starring Sean Connery as a defecting Soviet sub commander and Alec Baldwin as CIA analyst Jack Ryan, a recurrent Clancy hero, was released, further increasing Clancy’s visibility.
Clancy went on to write a host of subsequent bestsellers, which set new standards for technical accuracy.
Several of Clancy’s novels have since been adapted into movies. Although the subsequent novel was actually a prequel, “Patriot Games” was filmed next with the timeline slightly altered to allow it to be a sequel to “Red October.” Harrison Ford took over the Jack Ryan role, replacing Baldwin, who had reportedly priced himself out of the franchise. Philip Noyce directed.
Ford reprised the Jack Ryan role only once, in “Clear and Present Danger,” also directed by Noyce. Clancy was reportedly with changes made to his material, many of which involved cutting much of the lengthy novel’s sprawling backstories.
Clancy was himself an executive producer on the next movie, an adaptation of “The Sum of All Fears.” Ironically, this adaptation took even greater liberties with the source material, including casting Ben Affleck as a much younger version of Jack Ryan. The movie was presented as a prequel.
A new movie, entitled “Jack Ryan: Shadow One” stars Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) as an even younger Ryan. An original screenplay, the new movie will apparently showcase the character in his pre-CIA days. Kenneth Branagh (“Thor”) directs. “Jack Ryan: Shadow One” is scheduled to be released Christmas Day.
Clancy’s name is also attached to spin-off literary series, including the “Ghost Recon” and “Splinter Cell” series, as well as video games and the “Op Center” and “NetForce” TV properties.
Clancy was a lifelong political conservative who often supported conservative and Republican causes. As Clancy’s public prominence increased, he was often sought out to provide input and commentary on news and current event television programs. He was also a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association. In 1993, he joined a group of investors to buy the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.