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STUNTS, STARS & LEGENDS - January 2014

Stunts Stars and Legends: Paul Baxley
Artwork and articles by John Hagner (Artist of the Stars)

Paul was born in Casper, Wyoming in 1923. Growing up in Los Angeles, he went on to become an all-city quarterback and track star at Eagle Rock High School.

Paul BaxleyA Marine, a Scout and Sniper in the 4th Division in World War II, he fought on Kwajalein, lwo Jima, Saipan and Tinian. He received two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a letter of commendation from the President of the United States. He taught at Paris Island after the war, then he went back to college and became an all American quarterback, after which he met Richard Talmadge (the Incomparable Stuntman­–of whom I wrote my book.) Along with Dick and Dave Sharpe (the Prince of All Stuntmen). I also wrote a book on Dave called, “Dave Sharpe and Me”. The three-some were no doubt the best all around athletes going at the time.

Paul, with his movie star looks, obviously could double for some of the biggest stars Hollywood had to offer ... among whom were James Dean, Alan Ladd, Marlon Brando and William Shatner. He was one of the most sought after Stunt Coordinators and Second Unit Directors through out the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. He also directed several episodes of “T.H.E. Cat”, and the “Dukes of Hazzard”. He later enjoyed working as his son’s stunt coordinator and second unit director. Paul died on March 4, 2011.

Movies Made in Moab

Pontiac Moon (1994)
Starring: Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Ryan Todd Filmed at Arches National Park, Cisco, Crescent Junction and Ruby Ranch Road.
Story: An eccentric science teacher lives with his wife who hasn’t left their house in seven years, and an eleven year old son who dreams of rockets but has ever ever taken a ride in a car. Inspired by the Apollo XI astronauts, who are about to make their historic landing on the moon, the father realizes it is time for his family to break free of their inhibitions and make life a bold, new and thrilling adventure. With barely four days before the astronauts touch down on the lunar surface, he sets out with his son on a grand adventure to match the mileage in his beloved 1949 Pontiac Chief with the distance between the Earth and moon.


A Tribute to Renald and Rudy

Renald and John HagnerIt was when I was in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland that I first saw Renald and Rudy, a popular handbalancing duo who performed on the Hippodrome stage back in the early 1950s. Their routine was so superb. They had a routine that went for 8 minutes and Renald, who was top-mounter never put foot on the stage but one time, and it was to go into the finale of their performance.

I decided to go into show business back then and owe their dedication to their craft to my tremendous interest in handbalancing, that I formed my own duo partnership with Frank Gange, who was also the topmounter of our routine. We were known as the FranJon Duo and performed mostly on stages and local television at WBAL, Baltimore.

Through the training I got at the YMCA and watching action movies and serials of the Old Cliffhanger days, I developed a tremendous interest in stunt work, but, I owe it mostly to Renald and Rudy for convincing me to follow stage performances and later movie work as a stuntman/actor.

Sadly, Renald passed away in November. Fortunately, I had the opportunity of visiting him at his home in Yonkers, New York last year. It was a tearful reunion.

He is missed by me and friends who were acquainted with the greatest Handbalancing Duo ever, RENALD AND RUDY.

James ArnessWhen the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame moved to Moab in 1989, John Hagner (Founder) had the privilege of footprinting James Arness, (Matt Dillon) of television’s ‘’Gunsmoke’’. Arness donated the boots he used, to be footprinted in cement to the Hall of Fame, which now has over 400 done of famous celebrities, including James Stewart, Burt Reynolds, Yvonne DeCarlo, “Star Wars” Darth Vader (David Prowse) and Senator Orrin Hatch, and most of the legends of the stunt world, like Yakima Canutt, Dave Sharpe, Hal Needham and Ronnie Rondell.

If interested in learning more about the Hall of Fame, please contact John Hagner (Founder) at 435 260-2160.
Hall of Fame website:

John Hagner (Founder) is also the Artist of the Stars.
His Celebrity Portrait Drawings are available at telephone 435-259-7000,
Mailing address: 50 W. 400 N, Moab, Utah 84532.
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