Best-Selling Author Tom Clancy Dead at 66

Bestselling author Tom Clancy, whose political thrillers spawned films such as “The Hunt for Red October” and “Patriot Games,” sold more than 50 million books overall and became a multimedia brand with his move into videogames, died in a Baltimore hospital on Tuesday. He was 66.

Clancy’s publisher, Penguin Books, announced his death but not its cause.

The author expanded his reach into films adapted from many of his novels, a videogame company and ghost-written novels with his name attached. Most of his works focused on espionage and military science stories during the Cold War.

Movies based on his Jack Ryan series included “The Hunt for Red October,” “Patriot Games,” “Clear and Present Danger” and “The Sum of All Fears.”

One of the top-selling authors of the modern era, he wrote more than 100 books. “A Clear and Present Danger” was the top-selling book of the 1980s, while in the 1990s he broke a record with 2 million books sold in a single printing. Though he wasn’t considered a masterful writer, his fans appreciated his attention to the technical details of military and intelligence topics.

He founded the videogame company Red Storm Entertainment. In 2008 it was sold to Ubisoft, which continued to use his name for games such as the “Ghost Recon” series, “Rainbow Six” and “Splinter Cell.”

His first book, and the first Jack Ryan novel, was “The Hunt for Red October,” which he begun in 1982. It was published in 1984 and became a bestseller. Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck would all go on to play the central figure in movie adaptations of the Jack Ryan books.

The upcoming Kenneth Branagh film “Jack Ryan: Shadow One,” set for release on Dec. 25, is based on the characters Clancy created, and Chris Pine will play Ryan, with Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley also starring. The latest Jack Ryan novel, “Command Authority,” will be published Dec. 3.

Clancy’s multimedia approach to his work made him a very rich man — Forbes listed his net worth at $300 million. In 1997, for example, Penguin imprint Berkley Books reportedly paid him $50 million for two subsequent books and another $25 million to Red Storm for a lit/multimedia deal. His reach also extended to television. ABC miniseries “Tom Clancy’s Net Force” aired in 1998, and a series of books were published tied into the miniseries. Clancy earned executive producer credits on the 1995 telepic “OP Center” and on the 2002 Jack Ryan bigscreen adaptation “The Sum of All Fears.”

Born in Baltimore, he attended Loyola College in that city and ran an insurance agency before writing “The Hunt for Red October.” The politically conservative author dedicated many of his books to figures such as Ronald Reagan, and he came under fire after 9/11 for his criticism of the government and the CIA.

Clancy is survived by his second wife, Alexandra Marie Llewellyn; their daughter; and four children from his previous marriage to Wanda King.

(Carmel Dagan and Daniel Goldblatt contributed to this report.)

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  1. The world lost a truly great author. Thank you for your incredibly compelling stories. You gave us so many hours of entertainment. You will forever be remembered through your books and your words. RIP. Please feel free to leave your condolences:

  2. Schteveo says:

    I am a dyed in the wool Tom Clancy fan.

    I am a Navy veteran, my younger son was in the Marine Corps, his older brother will soon retire from the Navy, my father who was in the Air Force and my Grandfathers were both in the Army, we are a service family.

    I can tell you, Mr. Clancy, got it right, time after time after time. His research and attention to detail were in a league all by themselves. His hero characters were guys, and ladies, we all know, and all too often, people who are now gone and sorely missed.

    Mr. Clancy will be missed by all his fans, but most especially by the veterans. He wrote about the military at a time when interest was very low, and when Viet Nam was still heavy in the minds of many Americans, and the military was looked down upon.

    Many writers glorify the Officers and the NCOs.

    But Tom Clancy made all of us look like professionals. He built us up, from the 3rd Generation Ring-Knocker, Pentagon types, right down to a new Seaman Sonarman, learning the differences in a sneaky Russian sub and whale passing gas. For all that, for the tension, the humor, the pain and the truth of it, I don’t think any of us can thank him enough, ever, for just how good he made ALL of us look, all of the time.

    Now, as to the writer(s) of this story…well, if I said what I really thought this would never get posted!

    So I’ll say this, Tom Clancy not only WAS a masterful writer, he created a new genre out of whole cloth. What have you created, lately? Ever? As much as Hammett created the noir detectives and Asimov wrote down the Three Laws of Robotics, Tom Clancy created the techno-thriller. He must have been doing something right, he made $300M doing it! And YOUR whimpered, and semi-buried, denigration of HIS skills won’t diminish that.

    Pardon me for saying so, but most of the stories I’ve read in the 12 hours since I saw the first one about Mr. Clancy’s passing, had some side-long shot in it, just like yours. I think the lot of you are letting YOUR feelings show by saying that stuff. Jealous much?

    Not masterful, seriously? Just go back and read the reviews of the professional reviewers. Most of them are over the top, including words like Flawless, Gripping, Tingling, Rousing Crackling and a hundred more such adjectives, that were commonplace in reviews of his books.

    So, to sum it all up, I want simply wish to say Thank You Tom Clancy, prayers for his family and phhhttt to the writers of this article.

  3. Rest in Peace Tom Clancy. Please do check out his tribute memorial here:

  4. MCS says:

    Tom Clancy was my husband’s favorite author. He has all of Clancy’s books, and if they weren’t available on the shelf, my husband would make the effort every time to order every single one of them from the bookstore of from Amazon. Of the film adaptations, The Hunt for Red October was the still the best, with Alec Baldwin being the best Jack Ryan ever. Clancy will be missed.

  5. SharpieMan says:

    I felt like I should share my favorite quote of all time, and it just happens to be a Tom Clancy quote.

  6. Please Delete This When You Delete Them says:

    Comments are moderated? They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications?

    In that case I ask that the spam link to be taken down, as well as the claim Tom Clancy ‘pooped so hard his butt exploded’. Try and do your jobs, moderators.

  7. pat says:

    Howie you are a disrespectful muppet, how do you think his family would feel reading your totally inapropriate and totally unfunny comment? GROW UP

  8. Roger L. Lattin says:

    Tom Clancy was one of the only “fiction” writers that I read with out hesitation. I was very dismayed at some of the films that came out with his name attached to them. “Sum of All Fears” was an abortion I only hope that whom ever wrote the screen play or green lit it, got laid off from paramount this week.
    When “Red October” was released Casper Wienburger (Sec.of Defense) said;”Where the f*#k did he(Clancy) get his information from”
    In “Red October” there is a passage in the book (didn’t make it into the movie) about a helicopter taking experts out to rendezvous with the sub that crashes on the way. My dad issued the air worthiness directive about the bolts that failed as Tom Clancy described, as I read that section I often wondered how and where Mr. Clancy got his information.
    I miss my dad and now Tom Clancy for the ways that they could explain things in an enjoyable way.
    RIP you will be missed, but your stories will live on.

  9. Cinda says:

    66??! That’s much too young! Had he been sick for a long time?

    • GDM says:

      It’s actually “whoever greenlit” the film, as the person is the subject of the sentence. Whomever is used when referring to the object.

  10. Eve dillaway says:


  11. Living the Geek Life says:

    Reblogged this on Living the Geek Life and commented:
    I will miss his work. I’ve been a fan since I read “The Hunt for Red October”. Sad news, indeed.

  12. I’m so sorry one of my favorite authors is not w/us anymore. Enjoy reading most of his books…R.I.P may the Lord tke u in his arms!

  13. Dick Delson says:

    I loved his work. He died way to young.

  14. Clemmieo says:

    Rest in Peace Mr. Clancy. Spent countless hours reading your books which were so exciting, and watching your movies. Sincere condolences to his family; far too young in this day and age to die.

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