Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register Now to see X-MEN First Class!
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
YESTERDAY
World’s First Look At New Dawn Of The Planet Of Apes Footage
Andy Serkis Caesars the moment
Max Greenfield Says Hello My Name Is Doris
New Girl star in new comedy
Teaser For Orange Is The New Black Season 2
Piper goes for the throat
Captain America Remains In Command At US Box Office
Rio 2 still second but Transcendence disappoints
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


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
20 Not-So-Super-Men That Won't Star In A Film Any Time Soon
Forget your Batmen, your Spider-Men and your Ant-Men… Meet 3-D Man (and his pals)

The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

The 10 Most Exciting Movies At Cannes 2014
Empire's pick of the Croisette's finest

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

Who’s In Spider-Man’s Sinister Six?
A bluffer’s guide to the planned spin-off from the Amazing Spider-films

14 YouTube Videos Every Game Of Thrones Fan Should Have Watched By Now
From goats singing the theme tune to every death in under three minutes

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month 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  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)