Died Today in History ›
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Published: 10 months ago
Author Tom Clancy wrote books that thrilled readers with great plots and got the technical details just right, too. His espionage and military stories hit the best-seller list 17 times, and a number of his works were turned into popular movies, including "Clear and Present Danger" and "The Hunt for Red October," which President Ronald Reagan called "the best yarn." More than 100 million copies of his books are in print today. In addition to writing, Clancy was a part owner of the Baltimore Orioles and co-founded the video game developer Red Storm Entertainment. We remember Clancy's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2013: Tom Clancy, U.S. author well-known for his spy novels such as "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger," dies at 66.
In 1979, Clancy began "Patriot Games," in which he invented his hero, CIA agent Jack Ryan. In 1982, he put it aside and started "The Hunt for Red October," basing it on a real incident in November 1979, in which a Soviet missile frigate called the Storozhevoy attempted to defect. In real life, the ship didn't make it, but in Clancy's book, the defection is a success, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. By a stroke of luck, President Ronald Reagan got "Red October" as a Christmas gift and 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. Read more
2007: Al Oerter, U.S. athlete who won four Olympic gold medals in the discus throw and was the first athlete to win gold at the same event for four consecutive Olympic games, dies at 71.
In Melbourne in 1956, Oerter threw 184 feet 11 inches on his first toss and watched in amazement when nobody else, including teammate and world-record holder Fortune Gordien, came close to beating him. He came from behind to win again in Rome and overcame torn rib cartilage and other injuries to make it three in a row at the Tokyo Games in 1964, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. At 32, he was a long shot in the 1968 field headed by world-record holder Jay Silvester. However, Oerter responded with a personal-best 212 feet 11 inches to leave Mexico City with the gold. Read more
2004: Bruce Palmer, Canadian musician known best as the bassist for the 1960s band Buffalo Springfield, dies at 58.
As a Publishers Weekly review once noted, Avedon helped create the cachet of celebrity – if he took someone's picture, they must be famous. His fun-loving, fantasy-inspiring approach helped turn the fashion industry into a multibillion-dollar business, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Scores of imitators struggled to replicate his signature style, known simply as "The Avedon Look." "The world's most famous photographer," trumpeted a 2002 story on Avedon in The New York Times. It was a title he wore for decades; back in 1958, he was named one of the world's 10 finest photographers by Popular Photography magazine. Read more
2002: Walter Annenberg, U.S. publisher and philanthropist who created TV Guide and Seventeen magazines and was the U.S. ambassador to England, dies at 94.
2000: Robert Allen, U.S. composer who wrote the music for popular hit songs including "Chances Are," which was sung by Johnny Mathis, dies at 73.
1995: Margaret Gorman, U.S. woman known best for being the first winner of the Miss America pageant in 1921, dies at 90.
1985: E.B. White, U.S. author known best for his children's books, "Charlotte's Web" and "Stuart Little," dies at 86.
1984: Walter Alston, U.S. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers who led them to four World Series titles, dies at 72.
1975: Al Jackson Jr., U.S. drummer known best as a founding member of Booker T. and the M.G.'s, who had a hit single in 1962 with "Green Onions," dies at 39.
1972: Louis Leakey, British paleoanthropologist and archaeologist whose work was important in establishing human evolutionary development in Africa, dies at 69.
1961: Donald Cook, U.S. actor known for his portrayal of Mike Powers in the movie "Public Enemy," dies at 60.