“Forgotten Hollywood”- Remembering Hal Needham…

Posted on October 26, 2013 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here…

   Director Hal Needham began his career as a stuntman. His initial break came when he was cast as a billboard model for Viceroy Cigarettes while searching for a job in Hollywood. He eventually received an honorary Oscar for his contributions in the technical aspects of cinema.

hero719_needham2   In the 1956 biopic, The Spirit of St. Louis, the script called for airplane wing-walking and parachute jumping; skills Needham mastered while serving in the Army and performing in thrill shows. The technician nailed the stunts, and fell in love with the profession. He became the stunt double for Richard Boone on the popular  television western Have Gun, Will Travel. He  was recruited to train under John Wayne’s stunt double, and quickly became one of the top stuntmen of the 1960s on such films as How the West Was Won, McLintock!, The Bridge at Remagen, and Little Big Man. He doubled regularly for Clint Walker and Burt Reynolds.   HAL NEEDHAM —–>

   His most dazzling stunts included jumping a boat a record 138 feet across a swamp in Gator; jumping onto a moving stagecoach from a horse, and then broad-jumping across the coach’s teams of horses as they raced along in Little Big Man; and launching his car 80 feet onto a moving ferry in White Lightning. Needham moved into stunt coordinating and directing second unit action, while designing air bags and other innovative equipment to the industry.

   After Hal co-wrote the screenplay for Smokey and the Bandit, Burt Reynolds offered him the chance to direct the flick. It was a huge hit, and the results led to successful collaborative productions of Hooper, Stroker Ace, and The Cannonball Run series.

   In 2012, Needham was awarded a Governors Award by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, where he was introduced by director Quentin Tarantino.

   The durable Hal Needham was 82.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 26th, 2013 at 2:59 am and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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