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Hal Needham

  • Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee
  • Birthday: March 06
Date of passing: 
October 25, 2013

Obituary

Obituary: 

Hal Needham was a stunt performer who went on to become a director, writer and producer. Born in Tennessee, he dropped out of school after the eighth grade and joined the Army as a teenager. His experience as a paratrooper helped him break into stunt work on the feature film The Spirit of St. Louis.

Early in his career he earned a reputation for getting the stunt on the first take. He gained valuable experience on a number of Western television series, including Have Gun, Will Travel (on which he doubled the show's star, Richard Boone), Rawhide, The Virginian and The Wild, Wild West.

Hal Needham was a stunt performer who went on to become a director, writer and producer. Born in Tennessee, he dropped out of school after the eighth grade and joined the Army as a teenager. His experience as a paratrooper helped him break into stunt work on the feature film The Spirit of St. Louis.

Early in his career he earned a reputation for getting the stunt on the first take. He gained valuable experience on a number of Western television series, including Have Gun, Will Travel (on which he doubled the show's star, Richard Boone), Rawhide, The Virginian and The Wild, Wild West.

Needham developed a close working relationship with actor Burt Reynolds, whom he doubled throughout most of his career — including Reynolds' television series Riverboat and Dan August, and such feature films as White Lightning and The Longest Yard.

He went on to become a stunt coordinator and, later, the director of the feature films Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, The Cannonball Run and many others.

He also introduced technical innovations, including the Shotmaker Elite camera car and crane, for which he received an Emmy Award and a Scientific/Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. In addition, he received an honorary Oscar in 2012 for his contributions to the motion picture industry.

Over the course of a four-decade career that included an estimated 300 movies and 4,500 television episodes, Needham said he broke 56 bones, including his back twice, punctured a lung, dislocated a shoulder and knocked out numerous teeth.

He died October 25, 2013, at age 82.

 

 

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