Jun 29, 2013

Yakima Canutt

Enos Edward "Yakima" Canutt (1895-1986), a true legend of the stunt profession, created new methods of performing stunts with horses that made the stunts not only safer for the stuntman but also safer for the horse. He also pioneered choreography in fight scenes to portray more realistic and exciting action sequences.

Below: Yakima was a four time world champion bronc rider and a star attraction on the rodeo circuit as an all-around cowboy.

Based on his rodeo popularity, Yakima starred in a series of silent westerns for producer Ben Wilson.
With the coming of sound, Yak became more interested in stunt work.

Below: Yakima as an ape-man.

Below: John Wayne and Yakima Canutt in "The Star Packer" (1934)

Below: Left to right: Yakima Canutt, Frank McGlynn, Jr., John Wayne and Glenn Strange in "Lawless Range" (1935)

Below: Yak doubled John Carroll in the 12 chapter Republic serial, "Zorro Rides Again" (1937)

Yak appeared as a renegade in "Gone with the Wind" (1939.) He also doubled Clark Gable in the burning of Atlanta sequence.

Below: Yakima Canutt performing a "running W" in "Stagecoach" (1939)

Below: First time published photo of Yakima Canutt and Sunset Carson at a Western awards luncheon at the Universal Studios commissary on May 26, 1979.

Yakima has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he also has an honorary Oscar.

Yakima went on to a successful career as a second unit director and stunt coordinator. He staged the action sequences in movies including "Ben-Hur," "Where Eagles Dare," and "Breakheart Pass."

Jun 21, 2013

Harvey Parry

Harvey Parry (1900-1985) was one of the pioneers of the stunt profession. He  was performing stunts in movies before the word "stuntman" was used.   

As a youth, Harvey had worked as a circus aerialist. He was working as a property man at the studios when he discovered that his boxing and high diving talents (he had been an AAU champion in both sports) could lead to higher paying opportunities. He joined the Mack Sennett studios in 1919 and began working with the Keystone Kops.

Below: Harvey Parry perfoming a high dive in a film directed by John Ford in the early 1920's. 

Harvey was much in demand as a stuntman, doubling for actors including Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, Clark Gable, Peter Lorre, and many others. 

Below: Harvey doubled Harold Lloyd in "Feet First" (1930)

Below: In "How the West was Won" (1962), Harvey (center) was injured when a water tower fell the wrong way and the stuntmen, including Troy Melton and Joe Yrigoyen, jumped over 20 feet to the ground.

Harvey appeared as a prisoner with Clint Eastwood in "Hang 'em High" (1968)

In his later years, Harvey played character roles.

Below: Harvey played a referee in "Raging Bull" (1980) with Robert De Niro (left) and Johnny Barnes (right.)

Below: Harvey with a fan in 1985.

Jun 15, 2013

Gary Littlejohn

 Gary Littlejohn (b. 1937) has worked as a stuntman and actor on over 300 films. He is also well known as a motorcycle customizer. When his work began appearing on magazine covers, American International Pictures asked him to supply the motorcycles on Roger Corman's "The Wild Angels" (1966.)  This led to a new career for Littlejohn. For the next several years, he would build and coordinate motorcycles for almost every motorcycle film AIP made. He also began working as an actor and stuntman on these films. Littlejohn also made a name for himself building custom BMX bicycles, including the Littlejohn sidehack (a sidecar mounted BMX bike.)

Below: Gary (right) appeared in Richard Rush's "The Savage Seven" (1967). Carrying the girl is stuntman Gary Kent.

That's Gary on the cover of a motorcycle magazine in 1968 with the same bike he built and rode in "The Savage Seven."

Below: a magazine ad for Gary's products.

Below: Gary played a Sheriff in Terrence Malick's "Badlands" (1973) starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek.

Below: Gary Littlejohn (left) and director/stuntman Chuck Bail (right) on the set of "The Gumball Rally" (1976).

Jun 7, 2013

Dick Grace

Dick Grace (1898-1965) was a flier in World War I. After the war, he moved to Los Angeles and found work as a stuntman at Fox studios. His specialties were high falls and car stunts. A few years later, he bought several airplanes and started flying for the movies. He became known for crashing airplanes or "crack-ups."

Below: Dick Grace at work.

Below: In May, 1930, Dick was contracted by the General Tire and Rubber Co. to perform a "Blow out proof test" for their tires. 

Below: Dick Grace performing one of his "crack-ups."

Below: Dick Grace standing before a Spad he "cracked-up" for "Wings" (1927)

Below: While performing a stunt crash for "Wings" (1927), his airplane partially overturned. Grace's straps broke and he was thrown against the instrument panel. His neck was broken. He had this photo made wearing his cast.

Below: Dick Grace (center, wearing suit) with actress Colleen Moore (right of Grace), and Grace's stunt squadron, the Buzzards, on the set of "Lilac Time" (1928). 

Dick wrote several books about his adventures including, "Squadron of Death," "I Am Still Alive," and "Visibility Unlimited." His novel, "The Lost Squadron," was made in a movie starring Richard Dix. 

Dick Grace went back into the service (Jan. '43) during World War II. He joined the Army Air Corp and flew several missions with the 8th Air Force as a B-17 co-pilot. After the war, he operated a charter business in South America. He passed away at the age of 67, one of the few early stunt pilots to die of old age.