Apr 19, 2014

Howard Curtis

Howard Curtis (1927-1979)

Howard Curtis was an athlete and physical education major at Oberlin college in Ohio. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles to coach soccer and lacrosse at UCLA. Howard was also a pilot and avid skydiver. His first stunt job was in a cereal commercial that required some parachute work. He eventually left coaching to devote himself entirely to stunt work.

Howard worked on many big films including "Moonraker" (1979), "The Deep" (1977), "Jaws" (1975), "The Towering Inferno" (1974), "Earthquake" (1974), and "The Poseidon Adventure (1973).

Below: Howard Curtis (holding the gun) is filming a sky diving sequence for the TV series, "Ripcord" in 1963. Leigh Hunt is in the white helmet and the cameraman is Doyle Fields.

Below: Howard Curtis (top) doubling Paul Newman and Mickey Gilbert (bottom) doubling Robert Redford performed the famous stunt in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969).

The stunt was filmed at the Fox Ranch (now Malibu Creek State Park.) The stuntmen leaped off a crane, and the cliff walls were matted in.

Below: Howard (doubling Robert Wagner) is flipped by Julie Newmar's stunt double in the "It Takes a Thief" episode, "The Funeral is on Munday" (1969).

Below: Howard played "Hans" in "The Albatross" episode of "The Doris Day Show" (1971).

Below: Howard performed this body burn for an episode of "Emergency" entitled "The Mouse" (1975).

Below: Howard (top) is doubling Charles Bronson while Tony Brubaker doubles Archie Moore in "Breakheart Pass" (1975).
("Breakheart Pass" was 2nd unit director Yakima Canutt's final film.)

Below: Howard, (in red outfit, doubling Robert Shaw) along with Chuck Waters and Jophrey Brown, performed what may be one of the greatest stunts in movie history. For the film, "Swashbuckler" (1976), they rode a wagon off an 85 foot cliff into the water.

Here is the stunt.

Howard was a serious student and collector of early European Arms and Armor, and the author of one of the only decent books on the chronology and development of the helmet, "2,500 Years of European Helmets 800 B.C. - 1700 A.D." published in 1978. 

Howard died a hero in 1979 during a skydiving exhibition at Lake Elsinore, CA while trying to save an amateur skydiver who had gotten tangled up in his own chute. When Howard soared over to try and untangle him, the man panicked, grabbed hold of Howard and wouldn't let go. Both men fell to their deaths. His good friend, Robert Wagner, gave the eulogy at his funeral.

Below: In this sequence from "The Second Time Around" episode of "It Takes a Thief" (1969), Howard Curtis (with rifle) is overtaken by stuntman Dave Sharpe, who is doubling Fred Astaire.

Apr 8, 2014

Jack Verbois

Jack Verbois (b. 1942) was a professional bull rider in 1964 and 1965 when he was asked to fight a bull for "Alvarez Kelly" (1966) that was being filmed in his hometown. This started his 32 year career as a stuntman. He has worked on many films including "The Towering Inferno" (1974), "The Deer Hunter" (1978), "Scarface" (1983), "Predator" (1987), and "Casino" (1995). He was a member and former president of the Stuntmen's Association.

Below: Jack appeared in "What's Up, Doc?" (1972)

and performed this stunt crashing through a huge window.

Jack had five pound plates attached to his boots to help break the glass. 

The stuntmen holding the glass are Eddie Robinson (left) and Dick Butler (right).

Below: Jack (left) appeared with Robert Urich (center) and Scott Hylands (right) in the "Blood Brother" episode of "Kung Fu" (1973).

Below: Jack performed this impressive stunt in "Soylent Green" (1973)

Here is the stunt.

Below: Jack (right) had a featured role in Peter Bogdanovich's "Nickelodeon" (1976) starring Ryan O'Neal and Burt Reynolds.

Below: Jack Verbois and Chuck Waters are hanging from a helicopter in "The Deer Hunter" (1978).

Below: Jack put his riding skills to good use in "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" (1979).

Below: Also from "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days." Top row: (left to right) Ann Chatterton, Buddy Van Horn, and Tony Epper. Bottom row: Bob Yerkes and Jack Verbois.

Below: Jack did some wing walking for an episode of "Salvage 1" (1979).

Below: Jack (left) in a scene from the "HX-1" episode of "Airwolf" (1984). On the right is stuntman Allan Graf.

Here's an extra photo. Jack (left) and Hal Needham give stuntman Paul Nuckles a push on the set of "C. C. and Company" (1970) which starred Joe Namath and Ann-Margret.
(Photo courtesy Jack Verbois)

Richard Talmadge

One of the pioneers of the stunt profession, Richard Talmadge (1892-1981) was born in Germany as Sylvester Alphonse Metz. He first came to the USA as a member of the famed acrobats, the Metzetti troupe, with his brothers Victor and Otto, that had been engaged by the Barnum and Bailey circus. He began in films working with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

With Fairbanks help, Richard began starring in silent films. His stunts and spectacular leaps were truly death defying. 

Below: Richard Talmadge makes an amazing leap in his only starring serial, "Pirate Treasure" (Universal, 1934).

Below: Richard did a lot of fighting and stunts in "Pirate Treasure."

but, he also found time to relax between takes.

Below: Richard Talmadge in "Never Too Late" (1935).

Richard went on to become a top second unit director with credits including "How the West was Won" (1962), "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965), "What's New Pussycat" (1965), and "Casino Royale" (1967).

Here is a video of Richard Talmadge.

Apr 5, 2014

Buzz Henry

Robert "Buzz" Henry (1931-1971)

Buzz Henry was born in Colorado. He started working in films at a very young age. He was cast in many westerns because of his excellent riding ablility. He starred in several independent films including, "Buzzy Rides the Range" (1940) and "Buzzy and the Phantom Pinto" (1941).  As an adult, he became a stuntman and doubled for actors including Glenn Ford, Frank Sinatra, and James Coburn.

Buzz was the second unit director on films including "Our Man Flint" (1966), "The Wild Bunch" (1969), and "The Cowboys" (1972) starring John Wayne.

Below: Buzz co-starred in the Columbia serial, "Son of the Guardsman" (1946). On the left is Robert Shaw (not the actor from "Jaws").

Below: In 1946, Buzz appeared in another Columbia serial, "Hop Harrigan." Left to right: Sumner Getchell, Buzz Henry, William Bakewell, and Jennifer Holt.

Below: A lobby card featuring Buzz.

Below: (left to right) Buzz Henry, Kathleen Case, and Dick Jones in a publicity still from "Last of the Pony Riders" (1953).

Below: Buzz (right) doubling Glenn Ford in "The Sheepman" (1958).

Below: Buzz had a supporting role in "Cowboy" (1958).

Also from "Cowboy," (left to right): Glenn Ford, Richard Jaeckel, Jack Lemmon, and Buzz Henry.

Below: Stuntmen on "Major Dundee" (1965). Top row: (left to right) Whitey Hughes, Buzz Henry, Jerry Brown, and Hal Needham.
Center row: (left to right) Bill Catching, Jerry Gatlin, and Chuck Hayward.
Bottom row: (left to right) Jim Sheppard and Carl Pitti.

Below: Buzz (left) received a "Special Action Sequences" credit for "In Like Flint" (1967) starring James Coburn (right).

Below: Buzz appeared in the "Mannix" episode, "End of the Rainbow" (1968).

Below: Stunt coordinator and second unit director, Buzz Henry, on the set of "The Cowboys."

Buzz had made a deal with Universal Pictures to direct his first movie. He also bought himself a Ferrari. On Sept. 30, 1971, he was in a bar that used be across the street from Warner Bros. Burbank studios. He was having a discussion on whether a Ferrari or a motorcycle could handle best around curves. They decided to see for themselves and went to nearby Forest Lawn Drive. As Buzz was racing the motorcycle, he crashed and was killed. He was 40 years old.