Mar 29, 2014

Duke Green

William "Duke" Green (1900-1984)

Duke Green started his stunt career in 1925 when he was hired to double John Barrymore in "The Sea Beast." He has doubled for actors including Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, and J. Carrol Naish. He worked on many serials and B-westerns and other films including "King Kong" (1933), "Dodge City" (1939), and "The Great Race" (1965).

Below: Duke Green in an early magazine article about stuntmen.

Below: Duke Green (left) struggles with stuntman Tom Steele in the 1943 Republic serial, "The Masked Marvel."

Below: Duke (right) played a henchman in the Republic serial, The Black Widow" (1947). On the left is Anthony Warde

and performed this leap onto stuntmen Tom Steele and Dale Van Sickel.

In 1950, Duke broke his neck while performing a stunt on "The Flame and the Arrow" starring Burt Lancaster. He had many painful operations and never fully recovered. 

Below: From "Spy Smasher" (1942). Here's an example of why Duke Green was affectionately known as "Crazy Duke."

Mar 13, 2014

Hal Needham

Hal Brett Needham (1931-2013)

No stuntman had more drive or ambition than Hal Needham. His talent and will to succeed took him to the top of the stunt profession.

Below: In one of his first stunt jobs, Hal jumped out of an airplane and bulldogged stuntman Cliff Rose off a horse for the TV series, "You Asked for It."

After his appearance, Hal's phone didn't ring, so he started working as an extra to make contacts. Below: This is from "The Haunted Trees" (1959) episode of "Have Gun - Will Travel." Hal is on the far left. On the far right is another future stuntman and director, Chuck Bail.

In that episode, they needed someone to climb a tree with professional equipment. None of the stuntmen could make the climb. Hal had previously been a tree trimmer, so he stepped up and said he could do it. Hal didn't just climb the tree, he ran up it. Star Richard Boone was very impressed. A few days later, Boone had a disagreement with his stunt double, Fred Dale. When Dale was dismissed, Hal asked Boone for a chance to double him. Boone gave him a shot, and Hal doubled Boone on the show for the next six years. 

Below: Hal doubling Richard Boone on an episode of "Have Gun - Will Travel." 

During the filming of "Have Gun - Will Travel," Richard Boone had an acting school, and Hal was one of his students. When Boone directed the episode, "Dream Girl" (1962), he gave Hal (below: right) the guest starring role. On the left is Richard Boone as Paladin.

Below: Hal takes a fall in "Kings of the Sun" (1963).

Below: Chuck Roberson (left) and Hal Needham (right) in "Shenandoah" (1965)

Below: Hal (left) is doubling Richard Long in the "Big Valley" episode, "A Day of Terror" (1966), while martial arts and stunt legend, Gene LeBell (right), is doubling Ken Swofford.

Below: Hal makes a transfer to rescue stuntwomen Patty Elder and Stephanie Epper in "The Rare Breed" (1966). The wagon overturned on top of the women, but they only had minor injuries.

Below: In "Gator" (1976), Hal jumped from this truck as it's being turned over.

Below: In 1977, Gabriel toys released a Hal Needham Stunt Set. 

After working as a stunt coordinator and second unit director, Hal went on to a highly successful directing career. His directing credits include "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977), "Hooper" (1978), "The Villain" (1979), "Smokey and the Bandit 2" (1980), and "The Cannonball Run" (1981).

Mar 11, 2014

Eddie Parker

Edwin "Eddie" Parker (1900-1960)

Eddie Parker arrived in Hollywood from his native Minnesota in 1931. A skilled athlete, he became Universal Pictures most reliable (and highest paid) stunt performer, doubling for horror stars Lon Chaney, Jr. and Boris Karloff among others. He worked on many B-westerns and serials. He also performed stunts in many big films including, "Spartacus" (1960), "Around the World in 80 Days" (1956), "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954), and "Rear Window" (1954).

Below: Eddie (right) played a supporting role in "The Star Packer" (1934) starring John Wayne (left).

Below: This is another scene from "The Star Packer." From left to right: John Wayne, Eddie Parker, Yakima Canutt, and Earl Dwire.

Below: It looks like Eddie is about to go over the falls as he doubles Grant Withers in the Universal serial, "Jungle Jim" (1937).

Below: Dave Sharpe (left) is doubling Jackie Moran and Eddie Parker (right) is doubling Buster Crabbe in the Universal serial, "Buck Rogers" (1939).

Below: Eddie (right) is about to get into a fight with stuntman Tom Steele (left) who played the title role in "The Masked Marvel" (1943), a 12 chapter Republic serial.

Below: George Chesebro (left) and Eddie (right) confer in "Shadow Valley" (PRC, 1947).

Below: Eddie takes a punch from Tris Coffin in the classic Republic serial, "King of the Rocket Men" (1949).

Below: Kirk Alyn (left) has Eddie (right) covered in the Republic serial, "Radar Patrol vs. Spy King" (1949).

Below: From the Columbia serial, "Batman and Robin" (1949), left to right: House Peters, Jr, "The Wizard," John Doucette, stuntman Paul Stader, Jane Adams, and Eddie Parker. 

Below: Eddie (left) played Mr. Hyde and the great Boris Karloff (right) played Dr. Jekyll in "Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1953).

Below: Eddie played the Mummy in "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy" (1955).

In his spare time, Eddie and a partner owned a liquor store in the San Fernando Valley.

In 1960, Eddie was rehearsing a fight routine for "The Jack Benny Show" when he suffered a heart attack and passed away at the age of 59.