Hal Needham was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He was the son of Edith May and Howard Needham ... raised in Arkansas and Missouri. Needham was a paratrooper during the Korean War. He worked as a treetopper and was a billboad model for Viceroy Cigarettes while starting his career in Hollywood as a stuntman.
Needham’s first job was as a stunt double for Richard Boone on the TV western series, “Have Gun, Will Travel”.
Stunt double for 30 years for John Wayne, Chuck Roberson was involved in helping Hal in training in the 1960s and he became one of the leading stuntmen on such films as “How the West Was Won”, “McLintock”, “The War Lord”, and “Little Big Man”. He became a close friend of Burt Reynolds and shortly thereafter, he moved into stunt coordinating and directing second unit action.
He also designed and introduced air bags and other stunt equipment very important to the movie industry.
Hal and fellow stuntmen Glenn Wilder and Ronnie Rondell in 1971 formed “Stunts Unlimited”. Needham wrote a screenplay called “Smokey and the Bandit”. The movie was a big success, as well as two others that followed ... “Hooper”, “The Cannonball Run”, and “Megaforce”.
He moved out of stunt work, focusing on the “World Land Speed Record”. He received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the “Taurus World Stunt Awards” in 2012 and was awarded a “Governors Award” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as a longtime Honored Inductee in the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame.
Movies Made in Moab
FADE IN (1967)
“Iron cowboy” was the alternate title for “Fade In” in 1967 when it was released on video. It never showed in American theaters. It starred Loden. She portrays a film worker from Hollywood that comes to Moab with a film production company. She falls in love with a local rancher (Burt Reynolds). Many of the businesses and structures in town were shown as on-screen settings. The old Holiday Theater is where the Wells Fargo Bank is now located.
Stunt-coordinator Stan Barrett doubled for Burt Reynolds and Dick Butler also did the action.
In 1975, Burt Reynolds was footprinted in cement to commemorate the first of many such ceremonies. His close friend and famous stuntman Hal Needham also was present, along with Lee Majors of television’s action series, “The Fall Guy” and “Six Million Dollar Man came as well as actor Dale Robertson. They and 28 other famous personalities of the entertainment industry were honored at this ceremony held in Palmdale, California. Burt and many of the others present also donated some of their personal memorabilia to the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame.
Location was in and around Moab and Castle Valley.
EASY RIDER (1969)
Starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern.
Produced by Peter Fonda and directed by Dennis Hopper. They travel through the Southwest. This film was included to the Library of Congress National Registry in 1998. It explores the social landscape, issues and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, including the rise and fall of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle. The movie is famous for its use of real drugs in its portrayal of marijuana and other substances.
After smuggling cocaine from Mexico to Los Angeles Wyatt and Billy sell their contraband to “Connection,” a man (played by Phil Spector) in a Rolls-Royce and score a large sum of money. With the money from the sale stuffed into a plastic tube hidden inside the Stars and Stripes adorned fuel tank of Wyatt’s California-style chopper, they ride eastward in an attempt to reach New Orleans, Louisiana, in time for Mardi Gras.
|If interested in learning more about the Hall of Fame, please contact John Hagner (Founder) at 435 260-2160.
Hall of Fame website: www.stuntmen.org
John Hagner (Founder) is also the Artist of the Stars.
His Celebrity Portrait Drawings are available at telephone 435-259-7000,
50 W. 400 N, Moab, Utah 84532.
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