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20 Yakima Canutt

304 Andy Armstrong

310 Doug Coleman

A Brief History of Stunts – From Yakima Canutt to Present Day –


Introduction This eBook is the final publication of Inside Stunts. It represents the best of all seventeen previously printed issues of the magazine, plus new stories as well. To give you a sense of the timeline, the table of contents shows each article accompanied by the name of the issue in which it was originally published. My goal was to have this as the greatest stunt reference source for producers, directors and the worldwide stunt community for years to come. I wanted this to be an encyclopedia of stunts. Sadly, however, this eBook is incomplete: It is only a 300-plus-page snapshot of the stunt industry past and present—hence the title “A Brief History of Stunts.” There are so many great stunt people and action directors in America, Canada and abroad that I wish I’d had the chance to interview and learn from—far too many to mention here. I feel very lucky and grateful to have met the people that I have. They’ve opened themselves up to you and I, and shared what they know so that we may know them, learn from them and grow from that knowledge. I’ve learned a lot. When I was seventeen, I wanted to be a stuntman. I don’t know why—it just seemed glamorous, I guess. So, I figured I’d better train, right? Stuntmen train, so I’m gonna train, too! Yeah, but, how do stuntmen train? Hmmm. They get hit by cars. I’m gonna get hit by a car, too! So, I asked my friend to drive my car—an old, beat-up ’73 Capri— and hit me with it. I had all the confidence in the world, and unfortunately he didn’t seem to have a problem hitting me, so I gave him instructions and he went to ONE and waited for ACTION. My instructions were this: “I want you to drive my car at 25 mph. I’m going to walk out onto the street, and I’m going to do a bit of acting, like, ‘Ahhh, here comes the fast car, ahhh!’ Don’t let that distract you. No matter what happens, just hit me. And, after you hit me, speed up so I roll over the top easier.” Those were my instructions. I had no pads on. Of course, much later I found out that they only do car hits at 12-15 mph max, while fully padded.

ACTION! My friend drives down the street, I walk out into the middle, turn and see the car coming at me at 25 mph. I had no idea how fast 25 mph was until I saw that car coming toward me. I decide to bail—there was absolutely no way I was going to let him hit me. I run off the street and onto the neighbor’s lawn. However, the last thing my friend remembers me telling him was, ”No matter what happens, just hit me,” so he pulls off the street, onto the lawn and hits me. Then he speeds up.

I’m just happy I went over the car instead of under. I bounced off the car, landed back on the street somewhere, with a concussion, a broken wrist, a chipped tooth and an erased eyebrow. That hurt. That really hurt. I’m just happy I went over the car instead of under. It was a hard lesson and ever since then, I knew I never wanted to be a stuntman. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay away from stunts due to some kind of genetic disposition. I think it’s called the “risk gene”? Clearly it’s a medical condition, so I have no choice. I’m still doing stunts and thanks to all these guys with whom I’ve had the good fortune to speak, I’m doing things a lot safer now—I’m driving the damn car. I hope you all enjoy “A Brief History of Stunts.” John D. Ross Publisher/Stuntman/Stunt Coordinator

John D. Ross driving a Formula Ford. Photo courtesy of The Bondurant School.

Publisher/Chief Editor:

John D. Ross Creative Director/Editor: Lauraine Gustafson Copyright 2009 all rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited by law without the written consent of RI Media, LLC. www.InsideStunts.com 2 Inside Stunts A Brief History of Stunts


Contents

Yakima Canutt (1895–1986) ................................................................ 20 This World Champion rodeo star turned stuntman, turned stunt coordinator, turned action director was the pioneer in the stunt community. He won an honorary Academy Award and was considered by many to be one of the leading innovators in the business. Yakima is to stuntmen what Brando was to actors—the shoulders that everyone else stood on.

Winter 04-05, Spring 2005

32 ....................................................................................... Hal Needham

He was a poor sharecropper’s son and rose to be one of the world’s highest-paid stuntmen. One of the founders of Stunts Unlimited, Hal was known for introducing new equipment into the industry, such as the air-ram, ratchets and the airbag. He raised the level of respect for stuntmen in the film industry, and later wrote and directed the film classic Smokey and the Bandit.

Fall 2004

Terry Leonard ....................................................................................... 38 It was only fitting that Terry graced the very first issue of Inside Stunts magazine. Anyone will tell you that he is one of the kindest and most approachable stunt coordinators/ second-unit directors working today. Straight shooting and humble, he lives by these words: “Take the work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.”

Summer 2004

50 ...................................................................... Car Questions? Ask Rick Rick Seaman, from the Motion Picture Driving Clinic, generously donated his time and advice to up-and-coming car enthusiasts. These are answers to questions from the first year of Inside Stunts.

Various Issues

Basic Anatomy of a Stunt

During the magazine’s first year, we had a section called “Anatomy of a Stunt,” which broke down a particular stunt into its basic building blocks. Designed for absolute beginners, here are a couple of excerpts:

Basic Fighting for Film .......................................................................... 54 Safety, timing, rhythm, distance, body placement and energy all play important roles in fighting on film. Some of the most skilled fighters have been some of the worst film fighters. Always remember, it’s a dance, not a fight. Contributors include: Jim Vickers, Mike Smith, Ben Cooke, Mark Brooks, and Dino Dos Santos (also known as Dino Frenkiel)

Fall 2004

Basic Swordplay.................................................................................... 58 The more a stuntperson knows about sword fighting, the safer he or she will be on the set. It’s rare to do a swordfight without a partner, so if you’re unsafe or unskilled, you’re not only endangering yourself, but also at least one other person. Contributor: Trampas Thompson

Winter 2005

62 ........................................ Inside Commercial Driving with Mike Ryan

Pikes Peak record holder Mike Ryan is one of the best drivers in the business, whether it be jackknifing a truck to a mark or driving a car in formation mirror-to-mirror with another car, he does it with style and a smile. In this article, he examines the difference between a precision driver and a stunt driver.

Spring 2005 4 Inside Stunts A Brief History of Stunts


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Contents

Casey Pieretti Story ............................................................................. 65

One of the most memorable stories in the first year of publication for Inside Stunts magazine was Casey Pieretti’s story. Here is a man who lost part of his leg after being sandwiched between two cars. He is now a below-the-knee amputee, but that hasn’t slowed him down. He uses his unique talents to nail the stunt jobs no one else can. Winter 2005

70 ......................................................................................Ronnie Rondell

We were honored to have Ronnie Rondell lead off our second year of publication. Ronnie was a cofounder of Stunts Unlimited and received the Lifetime Achievement award in 2004. Now his son, R.A., and grandchildren carry the torch. Ronnie is now retired in Missouri, where he enjoys fishing on the Lake of Ozarks.

Summer 2005

Dancing Backwards in High Heels ....................................................... 76 Ladies have always had it tough. Stairfalls are no big deal, but when you have to do it in a bathing suit, with no pads, while dancing backwards in high heels, now that’s a stunt! Meet some of the top women in the industry.

Summer 2005

82 ................................................................................. Young Gun Series There are always new people coming in to the business and making a mark. Here is a series of articles throughout the years of Inside Stunts magazine featuring Oliver Keller, Zoë Bell, Monica Staggs, Jessie Graf, Jayson Dumenigo, and Ashton Moio.

Various Issues

One Special Old Gun: Bob Yerkes ....................................................... 94

Winter 2006

Fiction is strange, but this man’s life is stranger. He is a very generous, sharing soul, a gypsy with a home, a great man. Anyone who has wondered through town trying to get into the stunt business has found his home, including myself. I, as well as many others trying to get their start in the tough LA stunt business, have actually lived in one of the trailers in his backyard! Bobby is a living, working legend. In his mid seventies now, he still gets the great jobs.

98 ............................................. Sweat: The Stuntman’s Workout Part 1

Coach Kritz takes you through a four-part series, getting you ready for action! In the stunt world, the more powerful you are, the more dynamic, explosive and real your stunts will be.

Various Issues

Vic Armstrong .................................................................................... 106 Born in Farnham Commons, England, Vic has proven to be one of the most prolific stuntmen and action directors working in the business today. He loves being able to travel the world, doing what he loves.

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Contents

Conrad Palmisano............................................................................... 112 With a bloodline that makes him a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, Connie, as he is known to his friends, trusts his instincts when it comes to stunts. His work ethic began with his father’s mentoring and mantra to problem solving: “There’s got to be a better way.”

Winter 2006

118 .............................................................................................. Zoë Bell

The stage has been set, it seems, for the next generation of action heroines who can really walk the walk as well as talk the dialogue. Cue Zoë as she makes the jump from stuntwoman to actress in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof.

Summer 2007

Amspec: Innovator ............................................................................. 123 Often imitated, Amspec is a leading innovator and fabricator of stunt related equipment such as harnesses. No job is too big or too small.

Winter 2006

124 .................................................................................... The Risk Gene

Who would’ve thought that there would be a gene that predisposes us to take risks? Apparently, stunt performers may have borderline personality disorders. Read all about it!

Fall 2005

Fire from the North ........................................................................... 126 Canadians Dustin Brooks and Colin Decker’s creation of a new fire gel promises safer and longer burns. Simply put, there is no other product on the market that can come close to what this gel can do.

Fall 2007

128 ........................................................................................... CG Stunts

What every stunt professional should know about visual effects. Stuntman and visual effects artist Robert Chapin talks about the changes in the industry.

Winter 2006

Director’s Corner Series .................................................................... 132 A series of articles about directors and stuntmen turned directors, featuring Joe Carnahan, John Schneider, Jim Vickers and Andy Cheng.

Various Issues

140 ........................................................................................ Gene LeBell

He’s the toughest man alive, but also the most generous. Gene is one of those guys who is loved by all. He will always ask: “What can I do for you?” Sometimes people just asked to be choked out; then they can receive a patch that says, “I’ve been choked out by Gene LeBell!”—an honor in the stunt community, but an embarrassment in some other circles. (Inside joke intended.) 8 Inside Stunts A Brief History of Stunts

Spring 2006


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Contents Summer 2006

Mickey Gilbert .................................................................................... 146

Born and raised in Hollywood, California, Mickey was an all-around athlete before becoming a rodeo star. In his spare time, he wrangled horses on film sets and watched stuntmen do the things that he was doing every day on the rodeo circuit. This sparked his interest to get into stunts, and today he is the patriarch of a great stunt dynasty. The rest, as they say, is history.

152 ...........................................................................................Scott Leva

Most everyone in the film industry has a dream, a dream of the highest recognition possible: an Academy Award. Mr. Leva has been to the top of the mountain and seen the view. And, the view is good.

Summer 2006

Producer’s Corner Series .................................................................. 158 Al Wyatt, Jr., is a pioneer stuntman and now producer of the upcoming feature Stunt Academy. Stuntman Mikal Kartvedt is producing a new reality show called The Race for Baja! Gary R. Benz is a stuntman turned producer and now heads GRB TV. Martial Artist James Lew writes, directs and produces 18 Fingers of Death—a lot better than 17 Fingers of Death!

Various Issues

168 ........................................... Sweat: The Stuntman’s Workout Part 2

Personal trainer and stuntman Jay Torrez shares his workout secrets. This is a series of articles that appeared in Inside Stunts magazine from the Winter 2006-7 issue to the Summer of 2008 issue.

Various Issues

Amspec: 20 Plus Years........................................................................ 182 What can we expect from a company that has been serving the stunt community for over 20 years? Trust. This is a snapshot update of our friends at Amspec from the Summer 2008 Issue.

Summer 2008

183 ......................................................................Harry Donovan Rigging

Rigging guru Harry Donovan has hung over 200,000 points. Safety is his number one concern, and, as Harry would say: “Any mistake in rigging, no matter how small, is completely unacceptable and extremely irresponsible.”

Summer 2008

Spiro Razatos ...................................................................................... 186

Fall 2006

Spiro is a kid at heart. He loves to play, he loves to compete, but it’s all in good fun. Spiro is the guy that cheers for the underdog, but boos the bully. He sticks up for the weak, and does what’s right and fair. No, he’s not Superman (well almost, check out his early demo reels), but he is incredibly loyal and fights to work with the guys that have helped him out over the twenty-five-plus years of his career.

10 Inside Stunts A Brief History of Stunts


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Contents

David Ellis............................................................................................ 192 Snakes on a Plane director David Ellis is famous for his practical jokes. Everybody who’s ever worked with Ellis knows he’s a prankster, but there’s another aspect to his personality that’s talked about through the grapevine of the movie industry; he’s an amazingly nice guy.

Winter 2007

198 ................................................................................................Drifting

Imagine taking a corner at 80 mph and not rolling or losing control of your car. Professional drifters do this for a living with as much control as a typical person has just driving down the street

Fall 2006

Day in the Dirt .................................................................................... 202 The annual three-day motocross grand prix hosted by the stunt and film industry was created by Kenny Alexander and Jimmy Roberts as a way to bring back the tradition of the races they grew up with.

Fall 2006

206 .........................John Hagner’s Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame During his time as a stuntman, the genesis of an idea to honor and memorialize the greats of the stunt industry came to him, and thus the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame was born.

Summer 2006

Jeanne Epper....................................................................................... 208 “Jeanne has a tremendous spirit. She’s a can-do girl. I think somebody with the experience of Jeanne, and all the films she has done stuntwork for, she certainly qualifies to be one of the great stunt coordinators.” —Steven Spielberg

Winter 2007

212 ....................................................................... Flying Man: Jeb Corliss

“I am going to fly,” states the man in the flying squirrel suit. We’ve all heard the cliché, “Live every day as if it’s your last,” but in life you meet few people who actually live that cliché consistently every day of their lives.

Winter 2007

The One and Only: Dar Robinson (1947–1986) ................................ 218 Chuck Norris, who narrated the TV special The Ultimate Stuntman about Dar’s life, said that a stuntman must also be a showman, and Dar was certainly that. His one-of-a-kind stunts were extreme.

Spring 2007

224 .......................... The Action Character: Ray Stevenson & Jeff Wolfe

What’s unique about Ray is that he is the only actor to have ever shared a role with his stunt double. Since the original printing of this article, Jeff and Ray have continued their partnership in films such as Cirque du Freak, The Book of Eli and The Irishman.

Spring 2008 12 Inside Stunts A Brief History of Stunts


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Contents

Jophery Brown .................................................................................... 228 Jophery was born in Grambling, Louisiana, in 1945, and came of age during the height of the civil rights movement. After a stint as a Major League baseball player, he started doing stunts in 1970 and became one of Hollywood’s top stuntmen.

Summer 2007

234 ................................................................................................Parkour

Parkour is an art form of endless possibilities, strength, efficiency, fluidity and no limitations. Most Westerners have only been recently introduced to the art through films such as Yamakasi, District B-13 and, most recently, Casino Royale.

Spring 2007

Glory Fioramonte ............................................................................... 238 She is one of the few female stunt coordinators in the business. She has over thirty coordinating credits to her name and has always remained very modest when sharing stunt stories. As Glory would say, “There’s always somebody better than you are. There’s always something to learn.”

Summer 2007

244 ............................................ What Ever Happened to Brian Carson? He was known as the “King of Crash” on the live-show circuit, having crashed well over 2,000 cars. He was at the peak of his career when a stunt gone bad left him nearly dead. But now, Brian is back and ready for more.

Summer 2007

Raliegh Wilson: A Cowboy’s Story..................................................... 248 Award-winning rodeo star Roland (Raliegh) Wilson toured the world competing in rodeos. Later, he did a stint as the Marlboro man and then naturally gravitated toward, and succeeded in, many areas of the film industry. As Raliegh would say, “I’m one lucky cowboy.”

Summer 2008

252 ....................................................................... The Bondurant School

Bob Bondurant turned tragedy into triumph. He is recognized internationally as the leading authority on advanced driver training and has been at the forefront of professional driving since 1968.

Summer 2007

Grady Bishop: Drive ........................................................................... 254 Grady offers a unique driving course in Orlando, Florida. It has all the slides and spins that other courses offer, but it also adds to the curriculum formation driving specifically designed for commercials.

Summer 2008

258 ......................................................................................... Loren Janes

Cofounder of the Stuntmen’s Association, Loren was just a kid when he found a collection of Tarzan books and read them from cover to cover. This, he says, was the start of his wanting to be an adventurer and later a stuntman.

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Contents

Vince Deadrick, Sr. ............................................................................. 264 Vince throws, but pulls no punches. It’s very disarming to speak with him because, unlike most people, he doesn’t filter his words. With Vince, what you see is what you get, but it’s what you haven’t seen that you’ll read here.

Spring 2008

270 ......................................................No Oscar for Stunt Coordination

The stunt community, led by Stunts Unlimited member Jack Gill, has been lobbying AMPAS since 1991 for the creation of an Academy Award for “Best Stunt Coordination.” The answer has always been “no.” So, what needs to happen in order for them to say “yes”?

Spring 2008

Reality Check Revisited ...................................................................... 274 Mary Albee’s reality check for stunt performers is worth taking another look at. Go through the checklist, and ask yourself, “Is stuntwork truly the best career choice for me?”

Spring 2008

278 ............................................................................... Mike Chat’s XMA XMA—Xtreme Martial Arts—was created by actor, stuntman, retired seven-time World Forms and Weapons Champion, and Black Belt Hall of Fame member Mike Chaturantabut, or Mike Chat as he is popularly known. XMA is now practiced worldwide in over 600 licensed facilities.

Spring 2008

Rick Seaman: Locked Up ................................................................... 280 Rick Seaman invents the surefire device to get lock up and make those Hollywood skids, slides and turns with ease. Ladies and gentleman, the Skidmaker!

Summer 2008

282 ...................................................................................The Tao of Flint

Meet Native American stuntman Flint Eagle. “You have to give without expecting anything and all of life becomes magnificent.”

Summer 2008

Camera Copters ................................................................................. 284 After over twenty-five years, Paul Barth is one of the busiest production helicopter pilots in the country. Now, with his portable “camera copter” he isn’t looking back. The “Big Rig” transports by land anywhere in the country.

Spring 2006

286 ......................................................Tommy Rosales: “I cut you man.”

Tommy is a second-generation American of Mexican descent, born and raised in El Paso, Texas. He’s a family man who has been a mentor to few, an inspiration to more, a friend to many and loved by all.

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Contents 292 ...........................................................................................Jim Wilkey

Stuntman Jim Wilkey has had a great run and he’s just getting started. When Wilkey got the telephone call to double Health Ledger on The Dark Knight, little did he know that he would be making history.

NEW

Ryan Safety ......................................................................................... 294 Mike Ryan is a man with many hats. He’s a top stuntman; a truck and car specialist for film, TV and commercials; and a safety advisor to boot. Where does he find the time? Mike has contributed much over the years to Inside Stunts magazine including these three articles on safety.

Various Issues

300 ............................................................................. Anthony De Longis Mr. De Longis is a multi-talented weapons expert. He enjoys creative careers as an actor, fight director/action coordinator, weapons expert and teacher/trainer to the stars.

NEW

Andy Armstrong ................................................................................. 304 Andy was born in England, a progeny of the historical, if not notorious, “Clan Armstrong.” (They were the horseback raiders of the border region between England and Scotland.) Andy, often a contrarian, with little interest in horses, claimed two- and four-wheeled motor sports as his competitive passion. This would come to serve him well.

NEW

309 .................................................................Olivia Summers: Snapshot

In the typically male-dominated world of precision driving, Olivia Summers is the newest “it” girl. With a multitude of car commercials under her seatbelt, one can’t help but wonder how this sweet girl could be such a badass on the road.

NEW

Doug Coleman .................................................................................... 310 There are many great stuntmen, stunt coordinators and action directors working in our business today, and Doug Coleman is clearly one of them. Like so many of these top-level people, Doug doesn’t like to talk about himself. So, what do you do in a case like that? You hide the voice recorder, of course!

NEW

Producer’s Resources

Advertisers and Services Index.........................................................................................................318 Locate advertisers alphabetically or by the services they provide.

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A Brief History of Stunts Inside Stunts 19

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