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post Wanted: Daring Young Stunt Men

February 22nd, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:09 pm

August 12, 1967, UPI

Bob Hoy Stunt photoHollywood: wanted: young men in their 20s willing to fall off 30-foot cliffs, crash autos head-on, dive off horses at full speed, bare-knuckle fist fight and tip-toe through explosions.

It’s all yours if you can qualify and you don’t need a college degree. In fact, you’re better off with no education at all. The pay is good, as much as $30,000 a year. But work can besporadic.

Stunt Man is the name of the most dangerous profession outside of the Green Berets. Broken legs, fractured skulls, burns, contusions and cuts are the badges of the profession. It’s no wonder then that some stunt men turn to easier pursuits. Acting, for instance.

Bob Hoy is one of those who jumped the fence for a co-starring role in NBC-TV’s new horse opera, “High Chaparral,” produced by David Dortort, the self-same producer of “Bonanza.”

Bob Hoy stunt photoHoy is a rugged, daring rascal who has been a stunt man since 1949, as has the scars to prove it. He’s takin an economic beating in switching jobs, but there’s always a chance he could make it big as an actor.

“I’m not the only stunt man to go this route, “ he said. “Jack Mahoney was a stunt man and so were Terry Wilson and the late Frank McGrath of the old ‘Wagon Train’ series. But most stunt men freeze up when they have to act. It’s an entirely different business.” According to Hoy it takes eight years for a stunt man to gain the versatility to work regularly. In addition to fight scenes, a good stunt man works with explosives, duels with swords, handles horseflesh, auto wrecks, and probably most important, high falls.

At the moment there are 106 members of the Stuntmen’s Association of Motion Pictures. The average age is up in the 30s. “We bring along the new ones very slowly,” Hoy explained. “If there’s a call for 10 stunt men, we’ll bring along one novice and teach him as we go. You have to be able to blue-print an accident so it won’t look rehearsed. And you have to fall without looking down. It takes practice and precision.”

Hoy enjoys acting as much as stunt work and believes his exposure to Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and other acting greats on hundreds of sets provided a better training ground for performing than all the acting schools put together.

“The stunt men on this new series really put me on,” Hoy concluded. “I have a natural instinct to do my own stunts, but one accident and I blow the acting role. So the boys take over and zap me pretty good about becoming an actor. Who knows, I may go back to stunt work one of these days.”

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