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Evel Knievel

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Evel Knievel
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Official Site: evelknievel.com
Wikipedia: Evel Knievel

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Full Name: Robert Craig Knievel Jr.
Born: 17 October 1938
Died: 30 November 2007

A stuntman most famous for long-distance motorcycle jumps. In the late 2000's/early 2010's Knievel Cycles was a brand of custom motorcycles.

Biography

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Evel Knievel page on 26 March 2017, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel Jr. was an American stunt performer and painter. Over the course of his career, he attempted more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps; in 1974, he failed an attempted canyon jump across Snake River Canyon in the Skycycle X-2, a steam-powered rocket. Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999. He died of pulmonary disease in Clearwater, Florida in 2007, aged 69.

While trying to support his family, Knievel recalled the Joie Chitwood show he saw as a boy and decided that he could do something similar using a motorcycle. Promoting the show himself, Knievel rented the venue, wrote the press releases, set up the show, sold the tickets and served as his own master of ceremonies. After enticing the small crowd with a few wheelies, he proceeded to jump a twenty-foot-long box of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions. Despite landing short and having his back wheel hit the box containing the rattlesnakes, Knievel managed to land safely.

Knievel realized to make any amount of real money he would need to hire more performers, stunt coordinators and other personnel so that he could concentrate on the jumps. With little money, he went looking for a sponsor and found one in Bob Blair, owner of ZDS Motors, Inc., the West coast distributor for Berliner Motor Corporation, a distributor for Norton Motorcycles. Blair offered to provide the needed motorcycles, but he wanted the name changed from the Bobby Knievel and His Motorcycle Daredevils Thrill Show to Evil Knievel and His Motorcycle Daredevils. Knievel didn't want his image to be that of a Hells Angels rider, so he convinced Blair to allow him to use Evel instead of Evil.

The debut of Knievel and his daredevils was on January 3, 1966, at the National Date Festival in Indio, California. The show was a huge success. Knievel received several offers to host the show after their first performance. The second booking was in Hemet, California, but was canceled due to rain. The next performance was on February 10, in Barstow, California. During the performance, Knievel attempted a new stunt where he would jump, spread eagle, over a speeding motorcycle. Knievel jumped too late and the motorcycle hit him in the groin, tossing him fifteen feet into the air. He was placed in the hospital as a result of his injuries. When released, he returned to Barstow to finish the performance he had started almost a month earlier.

Knievel's daredevil show broke up after the Barstow performance because injuries prevented him from performing. After recovering, Knievel started traveling from small town to small town as a solo act. To get ahead of other motorcycle stunt people who were jumping animals or pools of water, Knievel started jumping cars. He began adding more and more cars to his jumps when he would return to the same venue to get people to come out and see him again. Knievel hadn't had a serious injury since the Barstow performance, but on June 19 in Missoula, Montana, he attempted to jump twelve cars and a cargo van. The distance he had for takeoff didn't allow him to get up enough speed. His back wheel hit the top of the van while his front wheel hit the top of the landing ramp. Knievel ended up with a severely broken arm and several broken ribs. The crash and subsequent stay in the hospital were a publicity windfall.

With each successful jump, the public wanted him to jump one more car. On May 30, 1967, Knievel successfully cleared sixteen cars in Gardena, California. Then he attempted the same jump on July 28, 1967, in Graham, Washington, where he had his next serious crash. Landing his cycle on a panel truck that was the last vehicle, Knievel was thrown from his bike. This time he suffered a serious concussion. After a month, he recovered and returned to Graham on August 18 to finish the show; but the result was the same, only this time the injuries were more serious. Again coming up short, Knievel crashed, breaking his left wrist, right knee and two ribs.

Knievel first received national exposure on March 18, 1968 when comedian and late night talk show host Joey Bishop had him on as a guest of ABC Television's The Joey Bishop Show. The national attention brought both a larger paycheck and larger fanbase.


Multimedia

10 February 2016
13-17455 Raymond Schreiber v. Estate of Robert Knievel
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
An appeal from the district court's judgment after a bench trial in an action under the Copyright Act concerning rights to films of Evel Knievel.
Download United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 5.1MB - 0:29


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
6 January 2015Evel Knievel’s® Terrifying Failed Jump to be Attempted at Sturgis Buffalo Chip®Sturgis Buffalo Chip
12 January 2016The Last Gladiator: Evel Knievel Honored in British Customs' Legends SeriesBritish Customs




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