Best-Selling Author Clive Cussler Dies In Paradise Valley at 88

By Steve Goldstein
Published: Thursday, February 27, 2020 - 1:01pm

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Dirk and Clive Cussler pose for photo
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Authors Kirk and Clive Cussler in Scottsdale on March 20, 2019.

New York Times best-selling adventure novelist Clive Cussler died at his Paradise Valley home Monday. He was 88. Cussler wrote more than 20 best-selling books.

He served in the Air Force during the Korean War and went on to write and produce radio and television commercials in Los Angeles, including one that made Ajax a best-selling laundry detergent with the tag line “stronger than dirt.” 

Cussler admitted the slogan was conceived after a hard night drinking with his colleagues. 

He began writing novels at night in the mid-1960s, but didn’t get published until after he sent a letter from a made-up publicist to a prominent literary agent.

"Raise the Titanic" was the first of many successful novels featuring a swashbuckling government agent and marine engineer named “Dirk Pitt.” It was optioned into a movie, which bombed in 1980. 

In a 2007 interview with Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen, Cussler said he’d been offered tens of millions of dollars to turn more books into movies. 

“The money is not the big thing here. I’m not going to cheat my readers with another lousy movie," Cussler said. 

 Cussler split his time between homes in Arizona and Colorado. He was preceded in death by his wife of 48 years, Barbara.  He is survived by his second wife, Jan, three children and four grandchildren.

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