Stunt Man: The Autobiography of Yakima Canutt with Oliver Drake

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University of Oklahoma Press, 1997 - Performing Arts - 252 pages
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Even before "talkies" came along, Yakima Canutt was thrilling motion-picture audiences with his daring stunts in blood-and-thunder Westerns - and starring in them too. The former rodeo champion stunted in or directed the action of some of the most famous Hollywood films: Stagecoach, Gone with the Wind, Spartacus, and Ivanhoe, to name a few. In Stunt Man, Yakima (with Oliver Drake) tells how he doubled for a galaxy of Hollywood stars - among others John Wayne, Clark Gable, Kirk Douglas, and Errol Flynn - and for a nameless Indian in the famous fall beneath a wagon in Stagecoach. He describes the ingenious equipment he invented for such stunts as toppling a horse-drawn wagon over a cliff, driving it through a deep river, or blowing it up - and how he arranged the convincing "death" of Messala in the 1959 remake of the Ben Hur chariot race. His achievements and safety standards in devising stunts earned him an Academy Award in 1966 - the only stunt man ever to receive one. Charlton Heston and John Wayne contributed a foreword and afterword to this book in his honor. In the introduction, John Crawford, an actor (and cousin of the author), provides a record of Yakima's achievements.

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