Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
TODAY
Teaser Trailer For Inherent Vice
Paul Thomas Anderson does Thomas Pynchon
More Movie News

RELATED REVIEWS
Rad
Empire Star Rating
The Cannonball Run
Empire Star Rating
More new cinemas releases
DVD & Blu-ray releases

Hal Needham Dies
Stuntman-turned-director was 82

27 October 2013  |  Written by James White  

submit to reddit

It’s not many stuntmen who can spin a wildly successful career making film stars look good by doing all the really dangerous work into a job writing and directing a cult classic. Hal Needham was one who managed it. He died on Friday morning at the age of 82.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Needham was initially raised in Arkansas and Missouri before enlisting as a paratrooper in the Korean War. Following his service, he worked several jobs, including tree maintenance and modelling (he was the face of Viceroy Cigarettes), but his true calling was as a stuntman on TV and in movies.

Needham got his first job working as the stunt double for Richard Boone on Western series Have Gun, Will Travel and, thanks to extensive studies with Chuck Roberson (John Wayne’s stuntman of choice), he went on to become one of the top performers in his industry.

After a successful string of stuntman jobs, Needham also began to develop innovative equipment into the profession, including better air bags to cushion high falls and various rigs that brought increased safety.

As well as forming Stunts Unlimited, a company to help stunt workers land jobs, he also harboured a desire to see a screenplay he’d written – Smokey And The Bandit – come to life. Thanks to a longstanding friendship with Burt Reynolds (who he’d doubled for years and who even lived in his guest house), Needham got his chance, writing and directing the action comedy.

In addition to a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award from the Taurus World Stunt Awards, he also received a Governors Award from the Oscars. He died shortly after being diagnosed with cancer and will be fondly remembered.


Have Your Say
To comment on this, and all articles, register for free or login now.

Luke Grimes Joins Fifty Shades Of Grey
He's playing Christian Grey’s brother, Elliot
Disney Re-Scales Pete's Dragon
UPDATE: David Lowery in talks to direct his script

Your Comments

Hooper
nice movie about stuntmen. I'd pay to see 'the spy who laughed at danger' More

Posted by spark1 at 11:19 on 28 October 2013 | Report This Post

RIP Hal
Hal may not be remembered as a "great" director (that said "Smokey and the Bandit" & "Hooper" is a classics of their kind) but his contribution to action cinema is enormous. I tweeted with the great British stunt god, Vic Armstrong, on Friday. He said stunt people the world over should be thanking Hal everyday for their careers as his stunt legacy is immense. More

Posted by excelsior at 07:34 on 28 October 2013 | Report This Post

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Future Of Film: A Woman Will Direct Star Wars
No longer a men’s club, Hollywood is going to start opening its doors...

The Empire Podcast #130: Interviews With Rosamund Pike, Lee Child And Antoine Fuqua
The Gone Girl star, Jack Reacher author and The Equalizer director pop in for a chat

The Future Of Film: Movie Posters Will Talk To You (And Buy Your Tickets)
Movie posters will be bigger, better... and talk to you?

The 50 Greatest Voice Performances In Movies
Who has the most talented tonsils in town?

25 Movie Songs Bigger Than The Movie
The film tunes that transcend their origins...

Denzel Washington: A Viewer’s Guide
The highs and lows of The Equalizer star’s career to date

The Making Of The Lost Pilot: An Oral History
The cast and crew look back at the epic season opener…

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)