Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
The Perfect Night In
Great Movies From Warner Bros.
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save up to 63%
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
TODAY
New Spectre Poster Lands
Look out for that skull, 007!
Mark Ruffalo Says The Hulk Was Cut From Captain America: Civil War
No room for a Brucie bonus after a script change
Gerard Butler Finds The Headhunter's Calling
Business whizz meets personal crisis
New Trailer For The Lobster Simmers Online
Colin Farrell makes an excellent choice
Cate Blanchett Will Be Lucille Ball
In a new biopic written by Aaron Sorkin
Ansel Elgort Finds Code Name Veil
Starring in the CIA drama
Cary Fukunaga Explains His Exit From It
'We didn't want to make the same movie...'
Uzo Aduba Joins American Pastoral
David Strathairn and more also aboard Ewan Mcgregor's film
Scott Cooper In Talks To Direct American Wolf
Leonardo DiCaprio wants him to tackle the story of a hunter and his accidental act
Pilou Asbæk Will Be Game Of Thrones' Euron Greyjoy
The Danish actor will appear in season six
Edward Ashley Heads For The Lost City Of Z
Joining his In The Heart Of The Sea co-star Tom Holland
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
Wes Craven: Film By Film
Empire celebrates the late, great horror director

My Movie Life: Andrew Haigh
The 45 Years director on the movies that made him

Vanity Projects: The Musical Edition
A dozen more hits and misses from the rock and pop world

Inside The Martian: Empire Meets NASA
Prepare to science the shit out of it...

Deadpool: A Complete History
Empire's guide to The Merc With A Mouth, in comics and on screen

Spectre – Everything You Need To Know
Empire's essential briefing on James Bond's 24th outing

The N.W.A-Team
Empire visits the set of Straight Outta Compton

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  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)