Stuntman!: My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life
By: Hal Needham
(Little, Brown and Company)
The preeminent stuntman/action movie director/Nascar team owner Hal Needham has led an interesting life indeed, going from being a share cropper’s son to a multi-million dollar director. He tells us his complete story in anecdotal detail in his 320-page bio: Stuntman!: My Care-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life.
It is impossible to read this book and not constantly smile. With so many stories about his work in film and NASCAR and in breaking the sound barrier records, one might think Needham is bragging, but in fact, he is just relating his life to readers and thoroughly enjoying doing so. But the guy does have a lot to brag about; he directed the very popular Smokey and The Bandit movies, got to double and befriend (as well as anybody could) John Wayne, invented some innovative stunt accoutrements as well as the Academy Award-winning Shotmaker camera car, he ran with jet fighter pilots and developed and owned a winning NASCAR team, the Skoal-Bandit.
Needham is also a gentleman of the old school. Living with and being best friends with Burt Reynolds you just know this guy must have been a bit of a playboy, but he only ever alludes to dalliances. Assuring the reader, as he does at the very end of the book, “When a job is once begun, never leave it ‘til it’s done,” one can certainly understand how Needham saw amazing success.