|First appearance||The Mediterranean Caper|
|Last appearance||Havana Storm|
|Created by||Clive Cussler|
|Portrayed by||Richard Jordan
|Occupation||In early novels: Director, Special Projects, National Underwater and Marine Agency. Later: Director, National Underwater and Marine Agency|
|Spouse(s)||Congresswoman Loren Smith|
|Children||Dirk Pitt, Jr.
Dirk Pitt is a fictional character, the protagonist of a series of bestselling adventure novels written by Clive Cussler. Dirk is an adventurer who seizes the opportunity to save the day. Through action-filled story lines, Pitt is portrayed as a man who is in love with the sea and does not fear pushing the envelope. The character is an avid collector of cars, a characteristic shared with his creator, 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.
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. During the events of that novel, Maeve and Dirk pledged their deepest love for each other, but unfortunately Maeve is fatally wounded, and dies in Dirk'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 version of 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 agave Tequila. 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 marine engineer 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.
The books are written in the style of fast-paced action, and follow a simple and predictable storyline (see below). Most of the creative effort is devoted to highly detailed descriptions of events and technology that are not necessarily mandatory to get the story across. Determination, perseverance and the tendency to overcome hopeless odds are trademarks of the main characters, who, in difficult situations, use humor to further antagonize their opponents or to lift their own spirits. Often, the activities of the main characters are described over action packed consecutive days as they become more determined and more exhausted.
In the novels Dirk Pitt occasionally meets an odd, eccentric individual that is a cameo appearance in the story by its author. In Night Probe! (1981) the character of Prof. Preston Beatty bears a striking resemblance to Cussler, other times characters appear who are simply called "C.C" or something similar, and eventually in Dragon (1990) a character is explicitly identified as Clive Cussler. Though they do find him familiar, Pitt and the characters usually cannot remember who the character is between his appearances, but it is sometimes hinted that the character of Cussler is consciously aware of the previous encounters. In most cases Cussler comes to the aid of Pitt and Giordino, as in Flood Tide, where he loaned them a boat. In Sahara, both Pitt and Giordino also meet the author, masquerading as an old treasure hunter with his burro, Mr. Periwinkle, while hiding in a ravine from General Kazim's forces. When asked his name, the treasure hunter responds it to be Clive Cussler. When conversing between themselves, both Pitt and Giordino admit that they cannot remember it. In Inca Gold the character then operates a diner housed in an old train wagon where he is met by Dirk Pitt and his love, Loren Smith. While departing the diner, the character tells Loren that he is about to feed his burro, Mr. Periwinkle, outside. Loren asks him his name upon which he tells her that it's an odd name that he never had much use for, and it is Clive Cussler. Pitt was attending his car at the time and did not overhear them. When he Loren tells him about the character, she has forgotten the name already.
The most obvious theme of the novels are respect for, and the mystery of, the sea. It is clear that Cussler has gleaned such an appreciation from his personal life, and this is expressed continuously throughout each novel. It is not difficult to arrive at the conclusion[original research?] that Cussler wishes a governmental organization such as "Fictional" NUMA (as described in the novels) existed to protect and explore the oceans, managed by a "can-do" person such as Sandecker. It is noted that Cussler formed an actual organization, called NUMA, which has a slightly different purpose. The Cussler "NUMA" is a non-profit company devoted to shipwreck exploration.
Another primary theme of the Dirk Pitt novels is that the merger and combination of the modern and the ancient are of value. Compare the ultra-modern computer lab run by Hiram Yeager to the unorganized book collection of St. Julien Perlmutter; both are used to the advantage of Dirk Pitt, even within the same novel. The technologically advanced NUMA scientific equipment is supplemented by classic cars and aircraft. The deep interest of Dirk Pitt in seeking out shipwrecks and solving old puzzles often leads to discoveries useful in the modern world. Characters in the novels explore and preserve history.
The books stress the sanctity of human life; the characters will spare no expense or personal sacrifice to save a single life, though the plots usually involve a range of events that affect thousands to the entire human population on Earth.
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. 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 
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. Cussler was unhappy with the film adaptation of Raise The Titanic! and for almost 25 years refused to sell the movie rights for any of his novels unless he had both casting and script approval. Eventually, he sold the rights to Sahara with those two provisions in place along with the clause that reduces those rights to consultant only upon the hiring of a director. So, after many rejected drafts and endless offers by the production company to get Cussler to actually consult as per his contract, the production decided on one and began filming without Cussler's consent, leading him to pursue legal action for violating their agreement. That being the case, Cussler lost the decision and was ordered to pay $5 million for breach of contract.
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.
- See Pacific Vortex! Page 77 (Reprinted in hardcover by Cahill Press in 2000.)
- Cussler, Clive (1985). "Deep Six", New York: Simon & Schuster. 0-671-50373-1; pages 337 & 338.
- "Judgement against author Cussler overturned in Anschutz/'Sahara' dispute." Denver Business Journal. 4 March 2010. http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/stories/2010/03/01/daily53.html
- The Official Website of Author Clive Cussler
- The Real Life NUMA non-profit organization founded by Clive Cussler
- Clive Cussler Collector's Society - An organization devoted to Clive Cussler's works.