Dirk Pitt is a fictional character, the protagonist of a series of bestsellingadventure/thrillernovels written by Clive Cussler.
Character information and the supporting cast
Dirk Eric Pitt is a renowned adventurer. Cussler describes him as tall, 6 ft 3 in (190.5 cm) with craggy looks, dark wavy hair, and possessing a rangy build. His most striking feature is his opaline green eyes, which can be both alluring or intimidating, as need be. Pitt has a commanding presence which, combined with a quick, sly wit, often infuriates those opposed to him. His comical banter with his sidekick Al Giordino during stressful situations leaves the reader with little doubt that both are confident of their abilities. While Dirk may be considered the hero of the two, Al Giordino is the man behind him. The character is an avid collector of cars, a characteristic shared with his creator, Clive Cussler.
Dirk is the son of Senator George Pitt of California. Throughout his life, there have been three women of significance: Summer Moran, Maeve Fletcher, and Loren Smith. Summer is the mother of his twin children: a son, Dirk Pitt, Jr., and a daughter, Summer Pitt. She is often described as Pitt's first real love. The daughter of deranged scientist Frederick Moran, she was believed dead by Pitt when she was lost during an attempt to rescue her father as his underwater lair collapsed. As revealed by twenty-three-year-old Dirk Pitt Jr. when the two meet in the concluding chapters of the novel Valhalla Rising, Summer in fact survived, badly maimed by the incident, and refused to seek him out because she wanted Pitt to remember her as he knew her. She gave birth to the twins shortly thereafter and raised them, naming them after their parents.
Dirk met Maeve in Shock Wave. Much like Summer, Maeve was the daughter of a deranged, ruthless individual, Arthur Dorsett, and also became a mother of two. However, unlike Summer, Maeve refused to have any part in her family's dealings or her father's plan, instead deciding to strike out on her own and having her two children out of wedlock. Maeve also ends up earning a master's degree in zoology and is serving as a tour guide aboard a cruise in the Antarctic when she and Pitt first meet. During the events of Shock Wave, Maeve and Dirk pledge their deepest love for each other, but unfortunately Maeve is already fatally wounded, and dies in Pitt's arms.
Pitt has had a long-term relationship with Congresswoman Loren Smith, whom he eventually marries. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy, and attained the rank of major (this was changed to the U.S. Naval Academy in the film versions of Raise the Titanic and Sahara) with lifelong best friend, Al Giordino. In the novel Flood Tide, it is mentioned that he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In the novel Pacific Vortex! it is revealed that Pitt has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two clusters, a Silver Star, a Purple Heart and many other commendations. Dirk is an accomplished pilot who is qualified to fly both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. His weapon of choice is a Colt .45-caliber M1911 semi-automatic pistol that he received from his father. His drink of choice is blue agaveTequila. Dirk believes that quality tequila should be drunk straight with salt and lime, preferring to use cheaper tequila in margaritas. He is described as wearing an orange-faced Doxa dive watch.
Dirk Pitt received a commendation for shooting down Admiral Sandecker's plane during the Vietnam War. The plane was carrying the Admiral and his staff to a remote base north of Da Nang. Unknown to them, the base was overrun by the North Vietnamese and their radio was malfunctioning, so they were unable to receive a warning. Pitt was flying nearby returning to his base from a bombing mission and was ordered to intercept and alert the admiral by whatever means available. When efforts to communicate with the Admiral's plane were unsuccessful, Pitt expertly shot out both engines on the transport, forcing them to ditch in the sea instead of landing at the captured base. Dirk then flew cover, strafing any boats that left the shore, until everyone was taken aboard a navy patrol vessel.
Pitt is actually named after Dirk Cussler, son of the author, who incidentally is also co-writer of the newest Pitt adventures with his father.
When Dirk Pitt is not traveling, which he is doing most of the time, he lives in his unique home - a remodeled and refurbished hangar on the grounds of Washington National Airport, near Washington, D.C.. A cast-iron stairway leads into a cluttered apartment with maps of the sea and models of ships scattered all about. The hangar houses his classic and antique car collection, as well as a Messerschmitt Me 262 aircraft, a Ford trimotor aircraft, a Pullman railroad dining car, and a totem pole. The hangar also contains items collected from prior adventures, such as a cast-iron bathtub with an outboard motor fixed to one end, and is protected by a state-of-the-art security system. Pitt occasionally adds classic cars to his collection purloined from a variety of antagonists over the course of his adventures.
In the course of his work as a marineengineer of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), an oceanographic research organization headed by Admiral James Sandecker with Rudi Gunn as second in command, Dirk Pitt has made numerous important shipwreck discoveries, and he has also thwarted a large number of plans by villains intent on global catastrophe or world domination.
Dirk Pitt went on, in the more recent novels, to become the head of NUMA when Admiral James Sandecker was appointed as Vice President of the United States by President Ward after the Vice President unexpectedly died in office. Despite this appointment, Pitt is uncomfortable with his desk job, and still personally heads projects in the field, becoming entangled in villainous plots just as easily as before his promotion.
Cars of Dirk Pitt
- The Mediterranean Caper - 1936 Maybach Zeppelin Town car
- Iceberg - (no car, but Pitt acquires the Ford Trimotor aircraft)
- Raise the Titanic! - (no car, but reference to a Stutz Bearcat Speedster, and a Renault town car recovered from the Titanic is mentioned in Vixen 03. A Rover Company vehicle, the model of which is unknown, but due the year mentioned, 1987, it is either a Rover SD1 or Rover 800. The Ford Trimotor is also mentioned.)
- Vixen 03 - 1912 Renault open-drive landaulette
- Night Probe! - AC Cobra and Jensen (also Pullman railroad dining car)
- Pacific Vortex! - AC Cobra
- Deep Six - Talbot-Lago
- Cyclops - Daimler DE36, 1957 Chevrolet (also cast iron bathtub with an outboard motor strapped to it)
- Treasure - Cord L-29
- Dragon - 1932 Stutz (also acquires a Messerschmitt Me 262)
- Sahara - 1936 Avions Voisin
- Inca Gold - 1936 Pierce-Arrow Travelodge Trailer
- Shock Wave - J2X Allard (also a totem pole and Marvelous Maeve, a beatup boat)
- Flood Tide - 1929 Model J Duesenberg
- Atlantis Found - 1936 Ford Hot Rod
- Valhalla Rising - 1938 Packard Towncar
- Trojan Odyssey - Marmon V-16
- Black Wind - 1958 Chrysler 300-D Convertible
- Treasure of Khan - 1921 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
- Arctic Drift - 1932 Auburn V-12
- Crescent Dawn - 1948 Model 135 Delahaye
- Poseidon's Arrow - 1930 Packard 734 Speedster Runabout
List of films and novels
Dirk Pitt adventure novels
- Pacific Vortex! (1983) (Though released at a later date, this is the first book that was written)
- The Mediterranean Caper (a.k.a. Mayday, 1973)
- Iceberg (1975)
- Raise the Titanic! (1976)
- Vixen 03 (1978)
- Night Probe! (1981)
- Deep Six (1984)
- Cyclops (1986)
- Treasure (1988)
- Dragon (1990)
- Sahara (1992)
- Inca Gold (1994)
- Shock Wave (1996)
- Flood Tide (1997)
- Atlantis Found (1999)
- Valhalla Rising (2001)
- Trojan Odyssey (2003)
- Black Wind (2004) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
- Treasure of Khan (2006) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
- Arctic Drift (2008) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
- Crescent Dawn (2010) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
- Poseidon's Arrow (2012) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
- Havana Storm (2014) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
- Odessa Sea (2016) - Written with son Dirk Cussler
Although Pacific Vortex! was released in 1983, it is actually the first Dirk Pitt novel chronologically. The events of Pacific Vortex! happen before those of The Mediterranean Caper. In fact, several events in Pacific Vortex! are referred to in The Mediterranean Caper. The series does not have to be read in order, since each book stands by itself.
There is also a Dirk Pitt reference book:
- Dirk Pitt and Clive Cussler Revealed (1998) - Written with Craig Dirgo which contains photos and a synopsis of the books, as well as a compendium of cars, characters, villains and women that have appeared in the novels throughout the years. Also, there is a biography and interview with Cussler, and a short story The Reunion, written from the perspective of a character who crashes a party at Pitt's hangar, meeting all the characters who had been predominant in the novels up to that time. Hints dropped throughout the story indicate that this unnamed character is Cussler himself.
Pitt has twice appeared on the big screen, in movie adaptations of Raise the Titanic! in 1980, and Sahara in 2005. In the former he was portrayed by Richard Jordan, and in the latter by Matthew McConaughey.
On 10 March 2009, Judge John P. Shook ordered Clive Cussler to pay $13.9 million in legal fees to the production company that turned his novel Sahara into a motion picture. In his ruling, Judge Shook agreed with lawyers for Crusader Entertainment that an original contract between the two parties called for an award of legal fees if either side breached. "The issue boils down to whether the fees requested are reasonable and necessary," Shook said. He concluded that they were. Cussler sued Crusader in 2004, claiming the company reneged on a contract that gave him approval rights over the film's screenplay, when, in fact, he only had those rights until a director was hired. Crusader, which is owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, countersued, accusing Cussler of duping it into adapting his book into a film based on an inflated number of novels sold. Jurors ruled in May 2007 in favor of the production company. On July 27, 2009, Cussler issued a final check to Crusader which totals the payback to $20 million to the wronged production company. A March 2010 decision by the California Court of Appeal has since overturned the earlier awardings of both the $5 million in damages and nearly $14 million in legal fees to Crusader.
Q. Any idea who will be cast to play Dirk, Al and the others?
CLIVE CUSSLER: Dirk is supposed top be played by Hugh Jackman*. He's a real comer, he fits Pitt's image perfectly. The rest of the casting will not start until January 2002. Right now everything is just status quo. The director is going to be Rob Bowman of X-Files fame.
Q. You are considered one of the premier action/adventure writers. One of the keys to your writing is your incredible suspenseful timing. What can you say about timing and how does it play a role in your writing?
CLIVE CUSSLER: I guess the books are kind of like the old Saturday afternoon matinee serials. Most of them were westerns in those days. Where the hero is going off the cliff in a car filled with dynamite and that's were it would end, until you came back the following Saturday to find out what happened. The books are laid out that way, you would end a chapter on some kind cliffhanger and then "oh my god" what happens next? So you turn the page and start the next chapter.
Q. I have to admit your books have been the cause of quite a number of sleepless nights. I just had to keep reading.
CLIVE CUSSLER: ( laughing) Sometimes my plot lines are so convoluted, I get calls from friends at 3 am saying; you SOB, you'll never pull this one off.
Q. As a matter of fact, yesterday evening while reading Atlantis Found, I noticed you had written yourself into your book! I must admit I got quite a laugh out of it. How did it come about?
CLIVE CUSSLER: It was a couple of books back, where Pitt was at a classic car club meet. He parked his old car next to this guy, an older man with grey hair and a grey beard. Pitt walks up and says hi my name is Dirk Pitt and before I knew it I had typed in hello my name is Clive Cussler. I stopped and looked around and said, gee, why did I do that. Then I got to joking around and had them look at each other. Then Pitt says, you know the name sounds familiar, but I just can't place the face. (laughing) So I just left it in as a joke, figured the readers would get a laugh out of it. I thought that was going to be the end of it, but then I got 300-400 letters saying how everybody liked it. So now I have to do a Hitchcock walk on and people are waiting to see where I come in.
Q. On that note, can we expect to see you in the motion picture?
CLIVE CUSSLER: Yes, I will be in SAHARA. In the book I was a prospector, but in the movie, I will be driving an old beat-up truck and rescuing Pitt and Giordino out in the Sahara
Q. In your opinion, what do you find most exciting about deep sea diving and exploration?
CLIVE CUSSLER: It's always the thrill of the unknown. Everybody dives in the Grand Cayman or Bermuda. I don't dive in those places anymore, after 50 years the thrill just isn't there. I always tell everybody, go where nobody goes! Go up into Canada or Alaska, sure it's cold water, but you'll be seeing things nobody has seen before! Go into the colder waters, from Vancouver up to Anchorage, my gosh, all the sounds and all that. Nobody ever dove there before. It's colder than hell, but if you get a dry suit, it isn't so bad.
Q. You have found many shipwrecks, can you tell us which one the most important/impressive?
CLIVE CUSSLER: Oh. There have been so many. Right now the one that is the big deal is the confederate submarine, the Hunley, which we found in Charleston. The first submarine to sink a warship, but never came back. We found it, raised and brought it to a laboratory where we will be excavating it. They will be preserving it so that someday it can go on display.
This year was pretty good, we found the Carpathia, Which of course rescued the Titanic survivors only to be torpedoed 6 years later off the coast of Ireland. And the Marie Celeste, Which was the famous ghost ship they found floating with nobody on board.
Q. You have been writing Dirk Pitt novels for nearly 30 years now, is it getting more difficult as you go along or has it become easier as the character develops?
CLIVE CUSSLER: I've used so many plots in my books that it's getting hard to be original. That's the trouble with a series, I'm writing away when I realise I used that same line of dialog six books back. It's become very difficult to be original. Q. Are there any plans for another novel after this latest one?
CLIVE CUSSLER: I have to write at least one more, because of the wild ending on Valhalla Rising, so I have to continue that one. Q. You recently published your first non-fiction work, could you tell us why you decided to take that direction?
CLIVE CUSSLER: So many people use to tell me that I should write about all the shipwrecks I've found. At the time I was busy with the Pitt books, so I worked with a fellow named Craig Dirgo. He did a lot of the easy stuff for me, I would write the historical part, and then he would go through it and write some more for me. Then I would write in where NUMA came in the picture to look for the shipwreck and what have you.
It was an interesting story on The Sea Hunters. When my agent went to "pitch" it to my publisher, they just weren't interested. They literally said that nobody reads shipwreck books. My agent insisted, well Cussler's got a name and a following. When he came back to me, he was quite upset; he asked what should we do? So I said, let's go to another publisher! Well obviously my publisher said that they couldn't have that, me going to another publisher. So they gave in and said OK, we'll print it, but only 50,000 copies. The sales department said no way; we know we can sell at least 250,000. Well the hardcover went #2 on the New York Time's bestsellers list and the paperback went #1! We must have sold over 1 million some odd copies! (laughing) We always laugh and called it the book that nobody wanted.
Q. It is my understanding that it is going to become a televised series?
CLIVE CUSSLER: Yes, it's going to be called The Sea Hunters and it will be filmed up in Nova Scotia. It will run internationally, but I'm not certain if it will run domestically. I will be like Arthur C. Clark; I will open and close each episode.
Q. Of all of your books, which is your favourite so far?
CLIVE CUSSLER: I like them all for different reasons. Night Probe was one of my better plots, Raise the Titanic was probably my best concept. People often ask me which car do you like in your collection? I like them all for different reasons.
Q. How about explorers? Who is your favourite?
CLIVE CUSSLER: The one that always intrigued me was Magellan, who circled around the world and Drake who did it the second time. I'm a history buff, I have a PHD in maritime history, so for me it's just fun to follow. History is just not being taught in schools like it used to be. Kids today have no grasp. It is really unfortunate.
Q. Thank you very much for this opportunity Dr. Cussler. This interview has been the highlight of my career so far.
CLIVE CUSSLER: (Laughing) You're welcome, Mr. Levesque. I'm sure you will have much bigger highlights in the future.
(excerpted from Time2watch.com)