Hal Needham

Active - 1963 - 1999  |   Born - Mar 6, 1931   |   Died - Oct 25, 2013   |   Genres - Western, Action, Comedy, Adventure, Crime

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Following Korean War service as a paratrooper, Hal Needham drifted into movies as a bit player. His remarkable physical dexterity and willingness to "take it" enabled him to rise up the professional ladder from stuntman to stunt coordinator to 2nd unit director. A longtime chum of Burt Reynolds (himself an ex-stuntman), Needham was given his first chance to direct a theatrical feature with Reynolds' Smokey and the Bandit (1977); the film was a huge hit, assuring Needham future assignments as both director and scriptwriter. The 1980 Reynolds vehicle Hooper was widely recognized as Reynolds and Needham's tribute to the entire fraternity of Hollywood stunters. For television, Needham directed several installments 1989 Burt Reynolds adventure series B. L. Stryker (1989) and the pilot for the syndicated adventure semi-weekly Bandit (1994); there was also a 1992 animated cartoon series titled Stunt Dawgs, wherein the central character was named Needham. Founder of the troubleshooting aggregation Stunts Unlimited (which also served as the title of a 1980 TV movie), Needham has also served as chairman for another movie-industry organization, Camera Platforms International. In addition, Hal Needham is owner of the "world's fastest car," the Budweiser Rocket, now on display at the Smithsonian Institute. Needham was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2012 for his innovations, just one year before he died at age 82.

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