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Looking Back: A WGNS interview with Hal Needham before he died

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This is a look-a-like car exactly the same as the original Smokey and the Bandit. This is a Pontiac Trans Am, once owned by a Rockvale resident. It was later sold in 2014.

Hal Needham, who was born in Memphis, Tennessee, had the dream job of all high schools boys. He performed stunts in movies like the Cannonball Run, How the West was Won, Little Big Man, Smokey and the Bandit and Stroker Ace. He also directed the 1980's hit BMX move Rad.

 

As you may or may not know, Needham died in October of 2013. Before his death, WGNS' Scott Walker and Sean Brown from Southeastern Tire interviewed Needham...

 

The Life of Hal Needham (From Wikipedia): 

Needham's first break was as the stunt double for actor Richard Boone on the popular TV western Have Gun, Will Travel. Needham trained under John Wayne's stunt double Chuck Roberson and quickly became one of the top stuntmen of the 1960s on such films as How the West Was WonThe Bridge at RemagenMcLintock!The War Lord, and Little Big Man. He doubled regularly for Clint Walker and Burt Reynolds. Needham moved into stunt coordinating and directing second unit action, while designing and introducing air bags and other innovative equipment to the industry. Needham at one time lived in Burt Reynolds' guesthouse for the better part of 12 years.[3]

In 1971, he and fellow stuntmen Glenn Wilder and Ronnie Rondell formed Stunts Unlimited. Needham had written a screenplay titled Smokey and the Bandit and his friend Reynolds offered him the chance to direct. The film was a huge hit, and the two followed it with HooperThe Cannonball Run, and Stroker Ace. Needham also directed the 80's BMX cult classic film Rad.

Needham moved out of stunt work, focusing his energy on the World Land Speed Record project that eventually became the Budweiser Rocket, driven most notably by stuntman Stan Barrett. The team failed to set an officially sanctioned World land speed record with the vehicle, and their claims to have broken the sound barrier in 1979 have been heavily disputed. In the 1980s he was best known as the owner for the Harry Gant SkoalBandit #33 car driven in the Winston Cup Series.

Needham received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Taurus World Stunt Awards. In 2012 he was awarded a Governors Award by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, where he was introduced byQuentin Tarantino.[4]

He died in 2013 at the age of 82[5] shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.[6]

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